1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness is a practice that is finally beginning to receive the recognition it deserves. All around the world individuals, schools, and even huge corporations alike are starting to teach and implement mindfulness as a tool for success and improved mental and emotional stability. Google's previous head of mindfulness and author of Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan, has stated "If you are a company leader who says employees should be encouraged to exercise, nobody looks at you funny...The same thing is happening to meditation and mindfulness, because now that it's become scientific, it has been demystified. It's going to be seen as fitness for the mind." Tan also believes that mindfulness opens the doorway to loving kindness, which is at the heart of business success.
But mindfulness is so much more than just an approach to take when it comes to business and success, it's a way to begin living in the present moment to allow gratitude to be expressed more readily and frequently. The key to mindfulness is paying attention, noticing the little details of your life or day and reflecting on those events as well as how you currently are feeling about them. The more we tap into how we feel, when we're feeling it in the moment allows us to get to the root of our emotions and be trained to handle them appropriately.
“Mindfulness does not fight anger or despair. Mindfulness is there in order to recognize … Breathing in, I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out, I smile towards my anger… This is not an act of suppression or of fighting. It is an act of recognizing. Once we recognize our anger, we embrace it with a lot of awareness, a lot of tenderness.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
My journey with practicing mindfulness started with journaling - Having something concrete where I had to sit down and reflect and acknowledge my feelings and thoughts through the day made me more aware of my actions and reactions to certain events. Then I began being more present as each day passed, knowing that eventually I would revisit everything that happened I wanted to remember details, I paid more attention to people I met from what they wore to the sound of their voice. If I went outside for a walk I would take note of all the beauty in nature and utilize all of my senses to be immersed in the experience. Even if I got upset or mad, I allowed myself to feel every emotion and physical reaction that followed. Mindfulness helped me to respond to those stressful situations in a more reflective style which I'm sure many people appreciate. Once I made it a habit to practice mindfulness, it became second nature. Figuring out how to incorporate it through my day gave me the opportunity to improve the practice as well as myself and overall well-being.
“As the number of studies increased, it became clear that writing was a far more powerful tool for healing than anyone had ever imagined.” – James W. Pennebaker
As an added bonus, there are health benefits linked to the regular practice of mindfulness in its many forms including lowered blood pressure, improved immune system function, better sleep, decreased anxiety/stress, and improved concentration and focus. Mindfulness is also shown to help decrease in emotional reactivity which is extremely beneficial when interacting with others during heated discussions.
So, I just shared with you all these great benefits about mindfulness and I'm sure by now you're wondering what are some steps you can take to start your journey right? I'll list a few below:
Do one thing at a time - The minute you start multi-tasking your attention is automatically splits decreasing your ability to stay focused on the current task
Pay full attention to what it is you are doing - This may seem easy, but with all the distractions around us from email, social media and other app alerts along with personal wandering thoughts it can easily lead to being mentally distracted from what you're doing in that moment
Refocus your mind - Being human, we know things happen and of course we can face the wandering mind syndrome but the key to practicing successful mindfulness is getting in the habit of gently bringing your thoughts and focus back to the task at hand
I also feel it's important to list the some of the other types of mindfulness practices outside of the journaling that I discussed earlier in this post:
Body Scan Meditation
Mindfulness on The Move
Pausing Between Action
I plan to revisit the topic of mindfulness on the blog and will provide even more insight, knowledge, tools and examples on how to apply these to your life so you can determine which method best works for you. As always, feel free to reach out to me via email or on any social media platform if you have any questions or just want to discuss mindfulness further!