Mindfulness has become quite popular in the last 5+ years. You may have heard of the word before, but do you know what this means? Mindfulness involves paying attention to what comes up in your mind, throughout your body, and in the world around you. The idea here is to objectively watch your problems so you’re less likely to get lost in them.
It is so powerful that Oprah, Tom Hanks, Madonna, and many equally influential and successful people have adopted mindfulness into daily practice. And it has paid off them in the form of deeper success from cultivating healthier, focused minds that are less bothered by stress.
By far most of the time, we are not aware of what’s going on in our minds. Thoughts rapidly swirl around without little concern as to why we are always thinking 24/7 and what we can actually do to calm tamper these thoughts. This is where mindfulness comes in. To help us gain more clarity and be more present in this one life we’ve been given.
The reality is that we cannot control how our boss treats us or the die-hard culture of our workplace, but we can control how we respond to these situations and people with deeper clarity.
Mindfulness will not “cure” our problems. But it can make us better equipped to deal with the stressors that arise, like those who annoy us and allow us to respond in a kinder manner. And it feels good to not react out of anger. People may even like you more too as a result of this.
It is not a fad and the benefits show that mindfulness here to stay long-term (more on this later). So why not learn more and see how you can slowly add mindfulness into your daily life?
Let’s talk about the process of mindfulness. It can be broken into three simple steps:
Be aware when your mind has wandered and/or you’re lost in your thoughts.
Don’t judge what you’re thinking. Just let go of your thoughts.
Take a breath in and out.
Note that even though the mindfulness process appears easy enough, this doesn’t mean that it’s instantly adopted into your routine. Mindfulness is a skill. As a result of this, it takes a dedicated effort to cultivate into a daily habit. Which means you need to set aside time to practice each day. Ideally, this would involve 5-15 minutes of dedicated time.
When you begin to paying attention to what you’re thinking, you’ll notice that it is noisy in that mind of yours. Holy cow! You’ll be surprised that your mind never-shuts-itself-up. This is where the power of mindfulness comes in. You’ll begin to separate yourself from your thoughts over and over again by drawing space between the two.
A cool thing about mindfulness is that it can be done anywhere, except when you’re sleeping. You can practice mindfulness when listening to someone speak, while working out, and even while vacuuming.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the modern-day founder of Mindfulness when he opened the Stress Clinic at the University of Massachusetts in the late 1970s. Since then thousands of studies have been completed in the name of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). You can read more about my lab rat experience in a MBSR trial at Duke University here.
Talking about the benefits of mindfulness, let’s review just two of these, even though there are many more.
The cells in the body age at a slower rate. Respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure decrease. The immune system is boosted. Quality sleep grows. Chronic pain decreases somewhere between 57-90%.
You become a more empathic and kinder person. Less angry and reactive to people and situations. Concentration, productivity, and focus are strengthened. Stress is reduced due to a more positive mindset and a calmer mind.
If you’ve convinced you that this mindfulness thang is worth pursuing, I’d like to suggest adding in an app or two to help kick-start the process.
If you’re looking for free apps, there are several good ones out there, like 10% Happier. For me, I use the Mindfulness Bell app. I set the app to ring a bell every 30 minutes during a set period. When the bell goes off, my attention is snapped into the present moment.
For paid versions of mindfulness apps, look to Headspace or Calm. I’d recommend first setting the app up as a trial before committing to a purchase to see what keeps your interest.
By being mindful, you’re able to be happier, healthier, and less bothered by people and situations while possessing a clearer mind to get things done. All from not getting lost in your thoughts and breathing in the present moment. I say this is indeed amazing!