What is Mindfulness?
In this article I explain what mindfulness is, how meditation can help mental health and how to become mindful without judgement
Mindfulness is the ability to focus on the subject, object, thing, situation or person in front of you at any given moment in time; to be able to give it your undivided attention without judgement; the ability to observe in a focused way can be achieved by training your mind.
When you exercise your body you lose excess fat, grow muscles and get healthy. Similarly, when you exercise your mind you lose the excess chatter, develop neural pathways, and get healthy. By training your mind to observe thoughts, emotions and situations in a focused way, you calm and quite the mind, losing unwanted interference. Imagine, for example, those moments on the treadmill in the gym or hitting the tarmac. When you lose sense of time and “in the zone ”, all you are aware of is either the rhythm of your breath, or putting one foot in front of the other. If you’re not a gym bunny, then it could be a romantic candle-lit dinner with your partner, when your focus of awareness is your partner, or the conversation you are having. When the background voices and worries of the day fade away around you, it’s just you, your partner, and that moment in time.
In the same way, when thoughts and feelings are observed with focus, you are able to separate the background noise, defocusing it, and calming your mind. By reducing background noise and staying calm, you reduce your levels of stress and anxiety, thus helping you improve your mental health.
This skill of observing, or being in the moment can be developed though meditation. But if meditation is not your cup of tea, mindfulness can also be practiced in many informal ways, such as photography, walking, eating, running, yoga, painting, knitting, fishing or playing music. This is why engaging in a hobby is known to relax your mind.
It is in these moments of inner silence you find answers to your questions; the 5am club, the eureka moments in the shower, or an apple falling from the tree.
When you allow yourself to build this skill, and apply it to your everyday life, you are able to handle the challenges and difficult situations in your life. Mindfulness can also help you enhance your creativity, productivity, and performance.
When we become aware without judgement, the background noise decreases. Just like at the gym or at the dinner when the noise around us doesn’t bother us, we are in that moment fully immersed in running or the conversation. When we don’t judge, we have a change to fully immerse ourselves, there is less self-talk, criticism, and emotional turmoil, giving space for the silence to grow, and becoming mindful.
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