What if I told you that there was something you can practice right now that will improve your well-being, physical health and mental health at little or no cost.
In the present day, our brains have developed so greatly that it has the tendency to be constantly solving problems that haven’t yet occurred and fixating on things that occurred in the past. This has led to increased feelings of anxiety and panic about the future and depressive feelings when you think about the past.
This leads to the question of how can we stop our brains from doing this and instead live in the present and the moment improve our overall well being. This is where mindfulness comes in. This article will serve as a guide for beginners to mindfulness. Here is what the guide will cover.
- What Mindfulness is Really About
- Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
- 3 Common Misconceptions About Mindfulness
- Easy Ways to Start Being Mindful
What is Mindfulness Really About?
After doing extensive research about mindfulness and reading through the many definitions, we found that this definition is the most clear-cut, understandable and has strong scientific backing.
According to an oft-cited report published by a group of renowned mindfulness researchers in the Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice Journal,
Mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.
This is for all intents and purposes the operational definition of the practice of mindfulness, which we will be using going forward. This consensus was reached after a group of respected mindfulness researchers from Columbia University, the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary came together to produce this journal. They wanted very much to pave the way for other researchers, practitioners, and consumers to clearly understand this increasingly popular practice.
This definition provides a clear-cut and well-defined way to understand the wide nature of mindfulness and its immediate benefits. The researchers used the word “self-regulation” in reference to how you can seize control of what you are paying attention to and regulate your focus. The other part of the definition is in reference to a change in attitude to what we pay attention to. This means that instead of being judgmental, closed off and accepting, we adopt an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance to all our experiences which may be pleasant, unpleasant or just plain boring. In some sense, the practice of mindfulness is like developing a superpower to increase its potency and the benefits it will bring.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
To explore the benefits of mindfulness, we will be looking at the research done by professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn the former founder and director Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center; who has been acknowledged as the founder of modern mindfulness.
He has been credited with introducing the practice of mindfulness to mainstream medicine and proving that the practice of mindfulness can have a positive impact on our well being, physical health and mental health.
The practice of mindfulness improves our well being as it encourages the attitudes that lead to a more satisfied life. Practicing mindfulness will make us more adept at enjoying life’s moments as they happen, help you to be more present in your everyday life and stretches your ability to deal with unpleasant events. People who practice mindfulness live more in the present are less likely to be bogged down by past regrets or future worries. They are also less worried about issues of success and self-esteem, allowing them to form deeper connections with other people.
Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between the practice of mindfulness and our physical health. Mindfulness has been shown to able to help manage inflammation and prevent disease due to the link between our mind and our immune system. Mindfulness training is also great for those looking to lose weight as it helps regulate our emotions and perspectives allowing you to stick to your diet and prevent emotional eating. In addition, research has shown that mindfulness can help alleviate stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and relieve gastrointestinal problems.
More recently, psychotherapists have been combining mindfulness meditation techniques together with cognitive behavioral therapy to help those with problems like depression, addiction, eating, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. This works as it helps people to acknowledge their experiences and painful emotions instead of avoiding or burying them. For those who are fortunate enough not to have these illnesses, mindfulness will also help you gain perspective on illogical and destructive thoughts.
3 Common Misconceptions About Mindfulness
Is Mindfulness Tied to Faith or Religion?
Although mindfulness has its origins in ‘sati’ a significant element of Buddhist practice; you can actually practice mindfulness without having to commit to any particular faith or religion. As mentioned earlier, Jon Kabit-Zinn developed a mindfulness program called the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to people who had issues with chronic pain. This developed into mindfulness strategies that are used in medicine and therapy, distancing it from religion. However, the practice of mindfulness does induce inner personal growth and cultivation which is inherently spiritual.
Mindfulness Can Only be Practiced During Meditation
Any common misconception people have is that mindfulness can only be practiced during meditation. The opposite is true as at many mindfulness retreats, participants are instructed to go about their daily life mindfully. From eating, walking to doing chores, all these can be done mindfully. This actually increases your awareness of the things you do and gives you more information about how the mind works. The goal is not to empty yourself of thoughts but to become more aware of whatever thoughts or feelings you might have.
Mindfulness is All About Concentrating and Focusing
Although practicing mindfulness can help heighten your concentration and focus, that is not the main objective. More importantly, mindfulness is about cultivating and regulating awareness with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance. Being able to concentrate and focus better is a by-product of mindfulness, but it is not the main thing. Rather, mindfulness is awareness and taming your wandering mind to be more aware of things like mindful breathing.
How to Get Started With Mindfulness
To help you get started with practicing mindfulness, here are 4 easy ways to meditate during your everyday life.
1)When You Have Thoughts… Just Observe.
To start off with mindfulness meditation, start noticing your thoughts and observing them. When you have thoughts throughout the day, just be aware of them and observe them netutrally. For example, you might think that someone is thinking that you are clumsy for tripping over your bag. Observe this thought neutrally and be aware of the effect of this thought.
2) Do One Thing at a Time
Resist the urge to multitask and devote your attention to just one thing at a time. This will help you cultivate your awareness and increase your capacity for mindfulness. For example, when you are eating, put away your phone and just focus on what you doing at the moment, one thing at a time.
3) Do it Slow
Although it may be challenging is Singapore’s fast-paced society. Whenever it is possible, do things slower to increase your awareness of what you are doing. This can be anything from walking home, doing your chores, cooking, eating and more..
4) Do Nothing
Save sometime everyday to do nothing at all. Just 5 minutes a day is a good start. Being alone with your thoughts will cultivate more awareness of the moment. In addition, if you are a super productive person, doing this will help you with creativity as well.
Now that you know more about mindfulness and the benefits it brings, why not join our IUIGA community to get you started on your journey to mindfulness In this group, would encourage each other to share more about being mindful and how to live a life of mindfulness. Join the group as we share mindful tips, grow as a community alongside some exclusive giveaways and collaborations, so stay tuned!