Mindfulness is foundational to the practice of Buddhism and Yoga, but it is also growing rapidly among various other communities in the West due to substantial scientific evidence showing its effectiveness for anxiety, pain, stress, sleep disorders and more.
The concept of mindfulness is something that is simple to comprehend, but not necessarily easy to practice for most people, which is why it takes practice.
It can be thought of as comprising two components: Attention and Attitude.
- Attention: Mindfulness means that you are oriented to what is happening right now (the feeling of your body on the chair you’re sitting in, the feeling of your breath, the sounds you hear… everything that is happening in this present moment) and paying close attention to it as opposed to what happened earlier or what may happen next.
- Attitude: Mindfulness promotes a particular kind of attitude that is open & curious, and accepting of this moment exactly how it is.
When you practice and apply mindfulness you are fully acknowledging each moment and accepting each moment exactly how it is (including all of your stressors, issues and areas of pain). You are letting everything be exactly the way it is.
And the truly remarkable thing is that when you are in this state, your physiology actually changes; different parts of your brain become more active, allowing you to actually feel less stress, anxiety, & pain and make better decisions.
Mindfulness can be practiced at any time of day, doing virtually any activity, but you will get better at it by devoting time to practicing it through meditation. Similar to going to the gym, you’ll be able to lift some weight if you don’t go, but with training, you can lift a lot more weight and become stronger. With dedicated practice, you can more easily achieve and stay in a more mindful state, even with added stress.
Ready to start? Here are a few good options:
App – Headspace. Currently has a 2-week free trial during which you can do the 10-day Basics course that will give you a great foundation (10 min per day).
Book – Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment & Your LIfe by Jon Zabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn has been doing research on mindfulness for decades and is the most prominent American to do research on its effectiveness.
Podcast – The Mindful Minute Podcast. Great library of very short meditations for specific situations.