To put it really simply, mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment. Mindfulness asks us to slow down and consider our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and what’s going on around us, and can help us to have a better understanding of our world and ourselves. It’s about assessing the present moment and being aware of how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking and what we’re doing.
Take for example: eating a sandwich. Eating a sandwich can be a rushed activity – you could gobble down the sandwich in between answering emails at your desk, whilst checking social media and thinking about the meeting you have in 15 minutes time, hardly noticing the act of eating. Or it can be a conscious activity – by taking the sandwich away from your desk, acknowledging your hunger and then enjoying the texture of the fresh bread and the flavours of the filling as you eat it, and then being aware as your body becomes fuller and satisfied, and being grateful for a moment to nourish yourself.
Mindfulness encourages us to stop multitasking and focus on one task at a time. By giving our full attention to the present moment, we allow ourselves to reconnect with our thoughts, feelings and activities, and see things more clearly. This clarity can help us to have a better understanding, to see things more positively, and to appreciate things more fully.
Mindfulness can be considered as a type of meditation, but where I think that it differs is that rather than asking the mind to be still and free from thought, it actually creates a space for thinking clearly. This space allows us to start asking ourselves questions and gives us opportunity to evaluate thoughts and situations, compassionately and non-critically, so we can take positive action. As a form of therapy, mindfulness can be used in a way to encourage us to filter our thoughts so that we are having useful and constructive thoughts that allow us to move on, rather than dwelling on the past or mulling over what if scenarios.
Mindfulness can be integrated into our everyday lives, but sometimes setting aside time to deliberately practice mindfulness can help us get out of autopilot and be present in the moment.
How can you be more mindful in your day to day life?