Many have heard of mindfulness and the power of the mind, a term used to describe the different types of thinking. But what exactly is it and how it can it help us? Read on to discover how the practice of mindfulness increases our awareness of ourselves, and how we respond to our inner and outer lives, our thoughts, emotions and events.
What is Mindfulness?
Originating in ancient meditative practices, mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in maintaining a calm awareness of your bodily functions, feelings, thoughts, perceptions and consciousness itself. Mindfulness can be practised by anyone as it’s not a religion or cult, nor does it have any theological assumptions. Today, it is used to help relieve people from mental and physical conditions, including addiction, depression and anxiety disorders.
The practise of mindfulness allows us to make better choices. When our minds are caught up in stressful thought patterns, it can be difficult to see through the fogginess of the mental clutter. We get confused and become reactive as opposed to reflective. Mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment with less distraction from unhelpful habits.
Living a More Fully Present and Aware Life
You may presume if you’re awake, you’re simply conscious all the time, fully aware of what’s going on around you and in you. Now, take a moment to turn your attention to your right foot. What do you sense – the temperature, the floor, your shoes? Before you focused on your foot, were you aware of these things?
Have you ever been at home enjoying a packet of crisps and then been surprised to find the packet empty? We’ve become very skilled at blocking out awareness from lots of repetitive events and habits. If we weren’t, we’d have information overload. We often function through automatic or habitual thinking, and not being present in the moment. Automatic thinking contributes to mindless eating as in the crisps example above. You ate the crisps, but you missed it, you weren’t aware of what you were doing. It’s a great shame to consume calories and not have the pleasure of doing so. It’s an even greater shame to not be present when much of your life is going on.
As John Lennon wrote, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ Make life happen for you, so you can enjoy it to the full.