the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
"their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique
Mindfulness is a way of life. Learn how to infuse presence, intention,
and awareness into everything you do.
Mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation that was little known in the West until the late 1970s. Buddhist monks have been practising a similar technique for 2,500 years. Unlike a typical meditation, which consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body, mindfulness aims to achieve a relaxed, non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts, feelings and sensations. Mindfulness allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts.
Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When you feel unhappy or stressed, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, by being mindful you are connecting with the present moment where you can calmly observe your thoughts, feelings and sensations, this allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life by being able to better manage them.
Being mindful of the present moment can also help us feel more positive. Without the worries of yesterday and fears about tomorrow plaguing our minds we have more space to appreciate what’s around us. Being present doesn’t magically cure our problems, but feelings like gratitude can benefit our mood over the long term.
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
“Self-love is an ocean and your heart is a vessel. Make it full, and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold close.” - Beau Taplin
HOW TO GET STARTED
There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all method to being mindful. Different people will find different activities to be most helpful. If we try one way of being mindful and hate it, then that’s okay! We can just try something else.
Mindfulness is about being really interested in getting close and personal with what's actually happening in our bodies and minds from moment to moment.
Start by becoming more aware of the world around you: switching off the auto-pilot, noticing and watching your thoughts and feelings, waking up to the physical sensations of things. Concentrate on your breath. This can help you to be aware of what is going on around you in the present moment.
I recommend taking a few minutes to start with, no more than ten. Find a quiet place where you can sit in a comfortable chair, lie down on your yoga mat or even lie with your legs up against the wall. You want to slow your breathing right down, this will help you to relax.
Breathe in to the count of 4
Hold it for 2
Exhale slowly to the count of 8
This will help you to pay attention to your body, training the mind to observe, focus and filter.
“Let go of your mind and then be mindful. Close your ears and listen!” - Rumi
Notice the everyday
"Even as we go about our daily lives, we can notice the sensations of things, the food we eat, the air moving past the body as we walk," says Professor Williams. "All this may sound very small, but it has huge power to interrupt the 'autopilot' mode we often engage day to day, and to give us new perspectives on life."
Keep it regular
It can be helpful to pick a regular time – the morning journey to work or a walk at lunchtime – during which you decide to be aware of the sensations created by the world around you.
Try something new
Trying new things, such as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch, can also help you notice the world in a new way.
I find riding a great way to be mindful but if you don't have a horse or don't ride then try going for a walk or a bike ride. You can start by being aware of everything around you - the weather, sights, sounds, colours. When your thoughts stray to concerns and worries, just guide your mind back to the exercise of being aware of your surroundings.
“It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn't about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events.” - Unknown
Watch your thoughts
I recommend taking a few minutes to start with, no more than ten. Find a quiet place where you can sit in a comfortable chair, lie down on your yoga mat or even lie on your back with your legs up against the wall.
Close your eyes and observe your breathing just as it is. There's no need to change anything. Just watch and observe each breath coming in and going out.
Thoughts will try and get in and take your attention - don't let that concern you. Observe them. Let go of them and get back to focusing, once again, on your breathing.
Try to practise this exercise every day, slowly increasing it when you're ready.
"Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they're doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in," says Professor Williams
"Imagine standing at a bus station and seeing 'thought buses' coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible."
Name thoughts and feelings
To develop an awareness of thoughts and feelings, some people find it helpful to silently name them: "Here’s the thought that I might fail this interview". Or, "This is social anxiety".
Free yourself from the past and future
You can practise mindfulness anywhere, but it can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that, for several minutes, you have been "trapped" in reliving past problems or "pre-living" future worries.