The Cambridge dictionary definition of mindfulness states its
“The practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm”
I like to simply define it as creating space in the mind.
Whatever your definition and thoughts on this subject, you can’t escape the rise of mindfulness.
The term has been growing steadily in popularity over the past few years, touted as the antidote to our stressful 21st century living.
So what is it really?
Why do you need it?
And, how do you do it?
These questions I hope to answer with this short article.
Mindfulness has its lineages in ancient Buddhist religion.
Where, the practice of self-observation and self-compassion are taught through the philosophies of Buddha.
Meditation forms a large part of the spiritual connection for the Buddhist.
Mindfulness was brought to the west by those returning from travels to the eastern monasteries. Having been amazed by the benefits and calming, peaceful ways of the Buddhists.
Jon Kabat Zinn, is one example. He is often named as the father of mindfulness.
A professor and author, he is said to have created the mindfulness acronym STOP a well known exercise taught to relieve stress and anxiety. Often used in therapy.
So can mindfulness really make a difference?
Yes, it can.
From my own experience its helped change my life.
After therapy for anxiety I took up meditation. That was over 10 years ago. To this day I’ve not endured a panic attack or any of the other anxiety symptoms I suffered with since.
I know that without my daily meditation practice, my recovery would not have been as successful.
Meditation is as essential to my well-being today as it was all those years ago.
It is said that we have up to 70,000 thoughts per day, with around 90% of these reoccurring. That’s a lot of noise in our heads.
When you consider the fast pace of life, the deadlines we have to meet, the sheer volume of things we try to cram into a day. Is it any wonder we are burning out, getting ill, and suffering with our mental health.
Mindfulness teaches us how to take a step back. To observe our mind instead of rumination.
Ultimately it helps us to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to be more objective, calmer and less stressed.
The Stop acronym I mentioned earlier is a great place to start, its simple to do. Why not give it a try now:
Stop what you are doing
Take deep breaths, notice your breathing
Observe your body, bring your mind back into the present moment away from planning or ruminating, observe the thoughts and emotions
Proceed, with your new observations about your self and get back to what you were doing
You don’t have to sit cross legged on the floor for hours with your eyes closed to do mindfulness. Every moment is an opportunity to be more present, aware of your breathing and your body.
We can all benefit from remembering to STOP during our day.