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.
Main characteristics of Mindfulness:
- Intention - create set and work towards personal mission, vision, values
- Attention - focus on the present, one thing at a time
- Perspective - maintain an open, non judgemental, non reactive mindset
All these characteristics are encompassed in acceptance. Meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. Without believing, there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. Practicing mindfulness allows our thoughts to tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment and dealing with that -- rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Three reasons practice mindfulness (even if not for business)?
Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits. Here are some of these benefits, which extend across many different settings.
- Mindfulness has a positive impact on our brains: Research shows that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
- Mindfulness enhances our ability to focus: Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills.
- Mindfulness improves relationships: Research suggests mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another.
Why is mindfulness hard to practice?
Taking time to actively make space for "doing nothing" is not easy for anyone. It is especially tough for active, achieving people to just sit quietly and “do nothing”, to engage in practice and behaviors that do not produce tangible results.
The basic nature of the mind is to dwell in the past or to worry about the future. Our uneasiness about what’s to come is actually our strategy to prepare for the future – our mind’s ingenious way of ensuring that we’re equipped to survive. Without such readiness, the mind can’t prepare the body to thrive and survive.
So how does this future-oriented mind know exactly what to prepare for the seemingly unknown? The mind relies on one thing to predict the future: the past. We use mental shortcuts including patterns, previous experiences and the link to allow the past to shape the future. However, just like with most things, there needs to be balance. @@Spending too much time in the future, distracts you from the here and now.@@ That’s where mindfulness comes in. Incorporating mindfulness in your daily practices retrains your brain to work better for you.
How do you cultivate mindfulness?
Here are a few key components of practicing mindfulness to help you start your practice:
- Pay close attention to your breathing, especially in the wake of intense emotions.
- Notice and sense your surroundings in a given moment. The sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by -- this is a way of bringing yourself back to the present moment. Keeping your thoughts from drifting to anxiety or worry of the past and/or future.
- Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you. Having a thought does not give it life. Having a thought does not mean it is truth. This insight will free you from negative thought patterns. Practice keeping the thoughts you enjoy and dismissing the thoughts that do not serve you.
- Tune into your body’s physical sensations. Similar to sensing your surroundings. Practicing sensing things from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body sinks into your bed at night. Again, bringing yourself to the present. These minor moments we often miss are the ones that make time fly and our days run together. Mindfulness helps you “catch” them and slow things down.
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” – Sylvia Boorstein
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