What is Mindfulness?

You may have heard about Mindfulness a lot these days. Perhaps you thought that it was another name for meditation or some other spiritual practice or some mumbo jumbo. Let me try and explain this as simply as I can.

Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn. “And then I sometimes add, in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.

(Jon Kabat-Zinn born Jon Kabat, June 5, 1944 is an American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical school. He popularised these practices in the western world in the recent past.)

Mindfulness however has its origins in the eastern hemisphere of the world and has been practiced for  centuries. The western world has recently learnt and begun adopting and using these practices.

Some key words to consider

  • Paying attention on purpose: We have been made to believe that multitasking is great! but neuro science says otherwise. With multitasking  our attention is constantly being distracted by looking at our phone and doing several chores at the same time, so much so that it’s difficult to focus. Mindfulness is about managing our awareness at will so we are able to focus better.
  • Being Present: Just observe your thoughts! Chances are that your thoughts are either in the past or future. Either you are regretting about something that happened in the past or are anxious about what will happen in the future. How often are you present in the moment? Mindfulness is about learning and practicing to be in the present.
  • Non-judgmental: Have you found yourself making judgements about every object, person or event in the world. You are not alone, after all we are trained all our life to have an opinion or judgement aren’t we? To be non-judgmental is to learn to accept things the way they are. This practice helps us save a lot of emotional energy that gets dissipated by having strong likes and dislikes.
  • Service of Self-Understanding and Wisdom: It simply means understanding who we truly are. Our bodies, thoughts and emotions keep changing in life yet we tend to identify with them and get carried away. Wisdom is being able to watch the flow of our thoughts from the balcony of our mind without getting hijacked by emotion at will.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.

Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful.

There is enough research available now to show that our brains can be rewired and  changed with practice and self-effort. This is called Neuroplasticity  You can learn to be “Mindful” with practice so there is hope for all of us.

The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.

4 Important Things To Know About Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. 
    It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
  • Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do. 
    We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbours, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in.
  • You don’t need to change. 
    Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us repeatedly. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
  • Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon.
    Here’s why:
    1. Anyone Can Do It – Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
    2. It’s A Way Of Living – Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
    3. It’s Evidence Based – We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
    4. It Sparks Innovation – As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.

    Some Misconceptions About Mindfulness

    Since Mindfulness is an often used  word today and whilst there are any number of  popular ideas about mindfulness some of the perceptions may be incorrect. When you begin to practice it, you may find the experience quite different than what you expected. There’s a good chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    5 things people get wrong about mindfulness:


    • “fixing” something that is wrong with you
    • about stopping the flow of your thoughts
    • about being religious and does not belong to a faith
    • an escape from real life
    • about solving all the problems you have in life

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