What is being mindful?
Being mindful involves a process or a state of mind where there is deliberate attention and focus on what you are experiencing. These experiences include internal thoughts and feelings, along with the external stimuli in the environment. In mindfulness, attention to events & experiences happens without any prejudice or judgement. A mindful person does not attempt to theorize or explain their experiences. In other words, the focus is on awareness and understanding over explaining and justifying. Being mindful is to be fully present in the current moment.
Are people born with a mindful nature? Some may be, but mindfulness is a skill that can be adopted, acquired, and honed. We need one key component to do so - practice!
How does being mindful help self-care?
The use of mindfulness for health and wellbeing can be traced back to different cultures & rituals in history. It is seen in the form of Vipassana in Yoga and is referred to as Sati in Pali within Buddhism. It has also been used in clinical settings from the 1970s, with multiple studies conducted on its positive impact on mental health.
Mindfulness-based activities have a proven impact on various aspects of wellbeing. Some studies show that mindfulness helps with stress reduction, an increase in quality of communication, an increase in empathy, and improved focus and memory. At its essence, mindfulness actively supports our emotional, mental & spiritual well being. The impact of consistent and determined mindfulness practices are seen across various aspects of life, from our professional arenas to social relationships and even our self-image.
How can one practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is often correlated to mediation, and rightfully so! One of the best practices to inculcate mindfulness in our daily lives is through meditation. However, mindfulness goes beyond our meditation. It can seep into all aspects of our self-care and wellbeing as we progress on our journey with being mindful.Meditation
We normally think of meditation as a person sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed, breathing slowly or chanting. However, mediation is so much more than sitting erect for a considerable amount of time. Multiple scientific definitions aim to describe what meditation entails. While these objective definitions aim to cover all aspects of meditation, it is innately a subjective experience. What might be meditative for one of us need not be for another individual. Finding our meditation path in life which leads to mindfulness is unique to each of us.
Keeping this in mind, allow us to now list a few popular types of meditation:
- Classic meditation: This traditional form involves a focus on breathing and posture. The person continues to observe their thoughts without judgement while doing so.
- Body scan: This type of meditation is directed towards synchronizing the mind & body together by sequentially focusing on each part of the body and understanding the feeling at the moment - tension, discomfort, sensations, etc..
- Guided: Here, one listens & follows the instructions of a trusted expert in meditation. The sessions can be spiritual and reflective, through visualization or using a specific theme in one's life.
- Visualisation: The person focuses and channels their thoughts on creating an image of an object or a calm place in their mind using detailed imagery.
- Being mindful uses your senses: In this type of meditation, the person uses each sense fully. They focus entirely on understanding the ingredients of what they are eating, sounds & smells in their environment and various tactile surfaces around them. Visually, they can pay attention to a myriad of elements in their environment. One can use this exercise during short breaks from our routine. This method is also known to help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Breaking & pausing: This is an active form of meditation. Individuals take micro-breaks & pause from what they are doing to be present in the moment. They focus on realising their current state of mind. After this, they get back to their routine.