Our surrounding is filled with distraction. At the modern world where we have access to so many technologies and gadgets getting distracted easily is very normal. So, at this age holding our concentration in one particular thing is extremely difficult. We get so busy thinking about our future, we often forget to live. Mindfulness is an ability that will enable you to live and enjoy your life rather than surviving.
What is mindfulness
Mindfulness simply means living in the present. It is the awareness that we can develop by paying attention on purpose at a particular moment. We are filled with a mixture of feelings when we are doing something, be it some important work or any free activity. We become so concerned about the result of it and other irrelevant elements that we lose our concentration from the part where our main focus should be on. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the task we are doing at that particular moment without judging, without thinking of the repercussions. It means acceptance and living moment-by-moment. At that moment you are not analyzing and trying to know what is happening, you are just a silent observer watching and feeling the moment. Mindfulness is not about any reaction, it is about your observation. It frees us from the distraction and let us feel the moment without thinking or worrying about it. Mindfulness has been developed from the meditation exercises of the Buddhists. However, it does not have anything to do with spirituality and anyone can practice mindfulness. It is one kind of meditation or a technique to a better way of life.
Mindfulness is not meditation
We need to understand it that mindfulness is not the same as meditation. It has some commonalities but isn't the same thing. One major difference can be that meditation can cure many mental issues along with some health issues while mindfulness is the prevention of those issues. So, it is not a cure. It is a long term process that gives you the strength to prevent developing mental and health issues. Meditation is a short term process where the effects last for a small time. It refreshes your mind and keeps your mind calm to prepare for your daily tasks or to cure your mental issues. But mindfulness frees you from all thoughts and gives your whole system a break. Meditation is a way to start embracing the lifestyle of mindfulness.
How mindfulness works
Mindfulness is like any other skill that needs to be developed. It is not a temporary state, we need to keep practising. It is a way of life. When we try to do more than one task simultaneously, it hampers the overall productivity. Because we lose attention to every work and may miss important details. Mindfulness withdraws our attention from other tasks and brings them to one particular task. It increases our awareness of the details of one particular moment restricting the distraction around us. That means it removes the concept of multitasking from our mind. We can also get distracted by thinking about past and future events. Mindfulness brings our attention to the present moment. People get confused about remembering what was and imagining what is to come in the near future. By doing this, they can not live in the moment and fall into depression, they develop mental issues. As mindfulness teaches us to be nonjudgmental, it helps us to observe the present rather than worrying about the past and future. It gets us rid of the 'what-ifs' and let us think about the present.
Mindfulness meditation connects us with emotion regulation. It means that emotions are taken as they are. We just need to feel the emotion as it comes to us without analyzing irrelevant information. One needs to observe how your thoughts are processed. By understanding the pattern, you can get rid of them so that the thoughts can not dominate your present. Even our body can tell us a lot about it. Our body tells a lot about ourselves. When we are going through a stage of depression or anxiety, our body can also feel it. We notice an irregular heartbeat, headaches, problem in breathing. This happens when our memories are controlling our present. Mindfulness meditation can help us to let go of these memories to calm our mind.
What does it do for us
We go through so many challenges throughout the day. We all lead a hectic lifestyle. It becomes tiresome for us to keep working and working all the time. We might think it increases our productivity. But the truth is it doesn't, in fact, it prevents us from being productive. When our mind is not fresh and thinking about too many things at once it fails to concentrate. Remember when you try too hard to get something you are creating a conflict between your mind and the outer world which is never a good approach. Mindfulness leads you to a way where you can stop these conflicts because it creates our awareness. The more you practice the more aware you become. But it is never about perfection. The beauty of our life is the imperfections. Mindfulness helps us to understand this truth and be happy. It makes you a fighter to face the imperfections bravely.
Nowadays, we will hear about mindfulness meditation everywhere. This much talking that is being done on this is justified. Scientists have carried out experiments and surveys to validate the effectiveness of mindfulness. They have found this to her truly effective. It does a lot of amazing things for our overall health along with calming our brain. One of the validations has come from a professor who has integrated mindfulness practice to the existing medications. The founder of the stress reduction clinic, Jon kabat-Zinn who had illustrated that mindfulness can bring amazing changes to our life. It can have a positive impact on our mental, physical health and behaviour.
As human beings, our mind wanders. It can process a lot of information at once. That is why we can put our concentration in more than one thing, it happens naturally. Researchers have proved that people get distracted most of the time, irrespective of what they are doing. Suppose you are at the office doing some important work. You can not hold that attention for much longer. You start thinking about the match you saw yesterday or you start thinking about the vacation that we went to last week and even start preparing for the next one in your thoughts. This distraction is not the case with you only. Most of us have to go through this distraction. It leads to unproductivity, delay in work and unhappiness. Researchers say that the distraction causes unhappiness no matter what the situation is. When we can not set our mind in one particular thing, meaning when our mind wanders we become less and less happy with our lives. Statistics prove this claim. Mindfulness meditation can get us rid of this issue.
Apart from this, it brings certain changes to our daily lives. Let us take one real-life example. Suppose you are asked to describe natural scenery. Now, you might be tempted to let the person know whether you like it or not. But is this what that person wanted to know? Of course, no. You get distracted and influenced by your choice and change your focus to something else which may be completely irrelevant. So, what you should have done in this case? Just describing the scenery to the person would have sufficed. By doing that, you would be concentrating on one thing only rather than getting distracted by some other information. That is what mindfulness meditation can do for us by teaching to hold our attention to one particular thing, to take everything one step at a time.
Mindfulness brings a lot of changes all together to help us lead a better life. By bringing your focus on one particular thing, it helps you to engage better in activities. You can really enjoy what you are doing without being distracted. It also has a positive effect on our physical health. When we get a clear mind, our heart stays healthy. As a result of it, we have good circulation of blood and normal blood pressure. It also reduces pains in the different parts of our body, helps us sleep and digest better. Along with physical health, mindfulness can also help us maintain a good mental health. We do not get depressed or suffer from anxiety disorders. We go not show any abnormal behaviour due to stress because our mind stays calm which we have learned through practising mindfulness.
To sum up the benefits of mindfulness we can take a look at the list below.
- Provides us with a better lifestyle
- Teaches us to focus on one thing at a time
- Does not let our thoughts of the past and for the future dominate our present.
- Lets us focus more on the sensation of our body
- Improves our physical health
- Keeps us away from the conflict of body and mind
- Helps us to keep a calm mind and thus keeps us away from mental issues
- Brings positive changes in our behaviour
- Provides us overall wellbeing to lead a happier and healthier life
There are several techniques you can easily try to achieve your goal. Let us look at some exercise for mindfulness meditation.
- Breathing: This is one of the easiest exercises which can be done by standing up or sitting down. You have to be still and keep your complete focus on breathing. First, you inhale with your nose with the complete upper movement of your stomach. Then you slowly exhale with your mouth. While this process, do not think about anything else. Feel the process throughout. Try to understand how your breathing works. It increases your awareness to one particular task. Continue doing this for 2-3 minutes and you will start feeling the difference.
- Focusing: This is the technique with an added step with breathing. In this exercise, you just need to sit calmly and start breathing rhythmically. While you breathe you have to keep track of every single inhale and exhale. Your chest will rise and fall along with your breathing. You will need to keep your focus on monitoring the movement.
- Observing: This is an important exercise that will help you in every field of your life. This one mostly depends on your choice. You can do this exercise the way you want. First, you have to pick an object and then you start your observation. Look closely and keep your complete focus on that object. Probably, you have seen that object before or you are seeing it for the first time. Irrespective of that, observe it like you are seeing it for the first time. When you focus deeply on it, you will notice the minute details.
- Noting: This exercise can be included in all the other exercises. Because it means to note what you are doing and feeling. When you feel any changes or distractions while exercising try to note it down so that you can know more about your habits and abilities.
- Listening: You already are familiar with this exercise. But maybe you are not doing it properly. It is listening to music with complete concentration. Put on your headphones and lie down or sit down. Calm yourself and start listening to a song you like. Try to feel the song. Try to understand the rhythm and inhale the magic of every instrument.
- Stop procrastinating: We are all guilty of this. We keep our work for the last moment and land in a difficult situation. Try not to do that. Keep a fixed schedule and capitalize on that diligently. When you have some tasks to do, just do it. Firstly, it will feel difficult. But after practising it for some time, it will become a habit.
- Appreciating: Try to appreciate the things of your surroundings. Look around yourself and you will find so many amazing things that you never admired. The people doing small tasks like carrying your mail deserve appreciation. Try to be nice to them and others. A simple thank you bring a lot of changes in yourself.
- Awareness: In this exercise, you will need to stop for a moment to feel your surroundings. What I mean by that is, when you go somewhere you quickly complete your task and you are back after that. But in this exercise, you will go somewhere and first will try to feel the ambience and try to understand where you are and why you are. Of course, you know where you are and why you are there, but just try to feel that within you to be ready for the next step. When you go to a beautiful place, you stand and inhale the beauty first. Then you start exploring the place. Do this in every situation of your life.
We live a very busy life. You write your assignment while you're going to college or completing a presentation while sitting in the car or planning a vacation while in an office meeting. It is understandable why we live like this. In this era, time is very valuable. We try to utilize it in the best way possible so that we can get time to do other things. It does not make us more productive most of the time. In fact, we fail to find the real meaning of life, we barely survive. We waste too much time about the things we missed. We live in the past and future. We make relationships in the present, we create things in the present time, we party and play with our friends in the present time. So, why keep thinking about the past or future? We should learn to live the moment before our present becomes the past. By thinking about the things that did not work and planning to do it better all the time will harm your mental health and daily life. You live only once, so don’t waste it living in the past. When you are too much concerned about what happened in the past or what will happen in your future, you miss out the real joy of living.