‘Mindfulness’ or ‘Mindful’ are words that you’ve probably heard far too many times already especially if you’re into Yoga or spirituality or have friends in these circles.
What is ‘mindfulness’? Is it just another new-age concept or is there something more to it? Let’s explore ‘Mindfulness’ in detail and understand the various benefits it offers in our day to day lives.
Mindfulness very simply means being fully aware of the present moment. It is being completely immersed in the ‘now’ without unconsciously drifting into the past or future. Sounds simple? Wait till you watch your own mind!
Notice how our minds so easily get distracted by a passing thought or an external stimulus. It doesn’t take us too long to enter into our own imaginary world. The problem here is not imagination. In fact, imagination is a complex result of years of evolution that helps us think of alternate realities without actually living in one! ‘Imagine’ a life without imagination- that would probably make our lives highly deterministic, driven by primal motives and reflexes akin to many animals in the world.
The issue here is the repetitive thought patterns that take us adrift into the past or future unconsciously even after we have consciously and thoroughly analysed and accepted the outcomes. Let’s take a closer look at this!
The Real vs. the Unreal
Each one of us lives in two worlds, one that’s common & shared with everyone, and the other which is uniquely ours and created by our own minds.
The reality that we all share is always in the ‘Present’ state whereas the illusion created by the mind is either in future or the past.
Being in the present can free us from stress and anxiety because both of these are by-products of being in the past or the future.
When we live far too often inside our head, in a world created by our mind, we constantly shuffle between thinking of the past and the future, both of which are fictitious and unreal worlds. Our stress, anxieties, and depression are caused by staying excessively in our tiny little mind bubble.
When we pay full attention to the present moment, we start to reclaim our life back, our sensations and our connection with our body. We will also notice heightened awareness as the mind is now more focussed and clear.
How can we be more mindful?
Meditation is a very powerful way to help one become more mindful. In fact, mindfulness is synonymous with meditativeness, i.e meditation in action. If you don’t know how to meditate, read our article on meditation here.
The practice of meditation involves anchoring the mind to just one activity for sustained periods of time such as watching the breath, observing a sensation or chanting a sound.
Once the mind is comfortably anchored and focussed for at least some time, the object of focus can be lifted and the mind can observe silence or complete inactivity even if it’s just for a few moments.
Through this practice, the mind becomes calmer and more aware. You will notice that your thoughts become clearer and your mind becomes calmer.
In case you feel lethargic or sleepy while trying to meditate, try doing pranayama or yogic breathwork right before meditation. Practicing Pranayama helps raise ‘Prana’ or the vital energy helping one stay alert and awake.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
- Being Mindful helps us stay focused for sustained periods of time.
- Mindfulness reduces anxiety and stress levels as the mind is more grounded in the present moment.
- It makes the mind calmer and more productive as the mental activity is balanced and more focussed.
Remember that we are all innately mindful. It’s only with time and being overly outward focussed that we lose the connection with the present that we all had as kids.
Mindfulness is not a religious practice and does not need you to practice a particular religion or rituals. It’s often associated with Hinduism or Buddhism since these ancient religions incorporated meditation as a practice for transcendence.
Meditation and Mindfulness is a process for your own evolution and self-growth.
If you find yourself often distracted online, switching between different tabs or mindlessly scrolling through social media, read our article on Mindfulness with Technology to help you become more aware of how you use your time online.
Wishing you many more happy mindful moments in life!
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