“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
We have been hearing the word ‘mindful’ a lot. There are more than a dozen apps for being mindful out there. Mindful meditation is the new age modality that yogis are practicing and encouraging.
What is Mindfulness?
A state of being consciously aware of our breathing, our thoughts, feelings, sensations and the immediate surroundings. Being one with the moment and truly relishing the here and now. Mindfulness involves paying attention in the given moment, rather than harbouring negativity from the past or worrying about the future.
We are mostly conditioned to a certain way of life which leads to constant judging and berating the everyday moments which make our present. We fail to acknowledge the beauty that lies within and in the mundane surrounds that envelop us.
Practising mindfulness increases positivity in our outlook toward life and reduces chances of falling prey to anxiety, stress and depression. It increases the ability to focus as we appreciate the finer details that much more. Our decision making skills and attention to detail only get enhanced.
There is also a high co-relation with body image and self-esteem. Feelings of worthlessness diminish and acceptance of self and others without judging increases. It helps harbour compassion for others and self both. It improves the quality of sleep, making it good for both, body and mind.
How to cultivate Mindfulness?
According to www.mindfulleadershipeducation.com, Jon Kabat-Zinn emphasizes that although mindfulness can be cultivated through formal meditation, that’s not the only way. “It’s not really about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you’re a statue in a British museum,” he says in this Greater Good video. “It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”
?Here are a few key components of practicing mindfulness that Kabat-Zinn and others identify:
- Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions.
- Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness.
- Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from negative thought patterns.
- Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.
- To develop these skills in everyday life, you can try these exercises used in Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR program and elsewhere:
- The body scan, where you focus your attention along your body, from the toes to the top of your head, trying to be aware and accepting of whatever you sense in these body parts, without controlling or changing those feelings.
- The raisin exercise, where you slowly use all of your senses, one after another, to observe a raisin in great detail, from the way it feels in your hand to the way its taste bursts on your tongue. This exercise is intended to help you focus on the present moment, and can be tried with different foods.
- Walking meditation, where you focus on the movement of your body as you take step after step, your feet touching and leaving the ground—an everyday activity we usually take for granted. This exercise is often practiced walking back and forth along a path 10 paces long, though it can be practiced along most any path.
- Loving-kindness meditation, involves extending feelings of compassion toward people, starting with yourself then branching out to someone close to you, then to an acquaintance, then to someone giving you a hard time, then finally to all beings everywhere.