What is mindfulness? According to John Kabat-Zinn, the man who popularized it at UMASS back in the 70’s while working with cancer patients, says, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.” A mouthful I know, but it is a very simple and profound way to live. You wouldn’t be hearing about it all the time if that weren’t the case. Ultimately, the goal of living a mindful life is to uncover the true happiness that lies within us.
Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose means that you’re not just mindlessly living your life. Back in the early days of my spiritual searching I came across gurus and visited ashrams. One of the things people used to say is that if you’re doing the dishes, do the dishes; if you’re driving the car, drive the car. Don’t do 17 things at one time. Again, simple and profound, just not easy for those of us living in a technology filed world with 24/7 notifications. It also forces us to be present, then the difficult part is staying nonjudgemental. It all takes a little practice, but the benefits are profound.
Here are some of the known benefits of practicing mindfulness.
Increased Self-control: These days with all the absurd abuse of power going around it seems like some men in high powered jobs could use a little mindfulness and get their self-control in order.
Less Reactivity and Acceptance: The more and more you begin to understand that practicing mindfulness encourages you to be present and nonjudgemental, the less reactive you become. Something can happen to you, but you don’t need to have a full outlandish reaction. You can have the experience of being angry or sad or hurt, but you don’t have to react. There is a great freedom in this practice.
Increased Focus & Mental Clarity: It becomes easier and easier to hold your focus as you become more adept at practicing mindfulness. Increased ADD and ADHD diagnoses show that people are less and less focused, but by being more mindful you train your brain to stay with one task at a time. This can be tough at first, but gets easier with practice and the amazing result is a clearer mind.
Self-compassion & Happiness: Along with acceptance comes self-compassion. This is a great benefit in our society because many of us can be incredibly critical of ourselves. I find a great freedom in being more compassionate with myself which allows me to stay connected to a sense of true happiness in my being.
These are just a few of the benefits of practicing mindfulness. As you can see, it’s an incredibly powerful practice and really all it takes is a few simple things.
3 ways to be more mindful:
Acknowledge: This goes back to acceptance, but we first must acknowledge what comes our way in the form of a thought, an experience, or a sensation. Once we acknowledge that something is happening we can deal with it. It’s important to understand to acknowledge without judgement, as the definition states.
Experience: Often times we want to avoid an experience. I know at times I want to avoid confrontations, but in the mindfulness practice we are encouraged to stay with the experience without judging it. If the experience hurts, like pain for instance, it’s not good or bad, it simply hurts. We take away the story that goes along with the experience.
Let Go: This is the best step of them all and once we get used to practicing it becomes easier and easier. We can let go because there is always a new moment, there is always a new day, a new experience, a new something. Once you let go, you open up to freedom and a sense of happiness that lies within us most people go a lifetime without discovering.
If we can begin to practice mindfulness throughout our day, we will find moments of presence which will lead to moments of peace which leads us to our true nature: happiness. You can begin with my free meditation program here. However you begin, start practicing now and enjoy the journey. As always if you need some help along the way I’m always here to help guide you along.
Originally published on the author’s website.