‘Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience’
– Jon Kabbat-Zinn
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness. It’s a pretty straightforward word, yet a little confusing. There is so much literature being written on this topic, it’s overwhelming. However, in simple words mindfulness suggests that the mind and body is completely present in the ‘here & now.
‘Mindfulness then is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.’
Difference between Awareness and Mindfulness-
Though the two concepts sound quite alike, they do have some differences.
The main difference between awareness and mindfulness is that they both refer to states of the mind, but mindfulness involves a lot more introspection and getting gradual control over inner interfering thoughts. Awareness is more sensory-based and is the mental concept that allows us to be more present in the world around us. Both of these concepts are part of meditation practice.
Both concepts are a way to stay in the present moment, but awareness considers the world around you, while mindfulness is more of an interior concept.
Benefits of Mindfulness-
The benefits of Mindfulness are multifold. Mindfulness helps to:
- Decrease Depression
- Improve emotion regulation
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve Memory
- Improve cognitions
- Strengthen relationships
- Improves physical health
- increases concentration and focus
- Helps you be in connect with yourself
How can mindfulness be incorporated in everyday life?
In our hectic, stressful and fast paced lives, it is naturally very difficult to incorporate mindfulness. However, the good thing about mindfulness is that it can be incorporated in your daily chores.
Here are some different ways you can practice mindfulness in everyday life :
- Mindful Eating-
While eating, be mindful of what the food tastes like, notice how you swallow your food and notice what the texture feels like. Eat slowly, pay attention to chewing. Do not multitask, do not watch TV or play on phone while eating. If you are fully present with the food, it’ll nourish your body better.
- Mindful Interactions-
Mindful interactions are important no matter who you’re interacting with. Interacting mindfully means giving that person your undivided attention and fully listening to what they have to say, instead of taking a train of your own thoughts into a parallel universe.
You can become more mindful by paying attention to the way you’re feeling, listening carefully, and learning to respond to others in a more thoughtful manner. This will enrich your relationships.
- Mindful Walking-
This is the practice of becoming aware about your surroundings and how your body and mind feel while walking. Mindful walking involves inhaling while placing one foot forward and exhaling while placing the other foot forward.
This can also help in removing pent up energy inside the body that builds up because of stressful situations. Mindful walking is very effective and can be practiced a few times a day.
Here we have written walking as an example but you can extend mindfulness to any other daily activity you perform, like bathing, washing utensils, arranging your cupboard etc. Just remember to be fully present in the task.
- Pause throughout the day-
While moving from one activity to another throughout the day, it can be quite difficult to be mindful.
Hence, it is effective to pause throughout the day while doing activities and practice some small mindfulness-based exercises. For example, taking out 4-5 minutes between two activities and doing deep belly breathing. This way you can prepare yourself for the next task.
Pro tip while practicing mindfulness:
It is a myth that if you’re practicing mindfulness, no thought should enter your mind. However, we are human beings & not someone who has attained that stage yet.
Mindfulness is more about being welcoming, accepting of those thoughts, however respectfully denying to cater to them at that point in time.
For example, if a thought enters my mind, I will say to myself, “Right now I am trying to be mindful about the task at hand, so this thought is not a priority right now. I will entertain it later in the night.