What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a tool that has become exceedingly popular recently. It was only a few years ago that the general public was not familiar with the term, whereas today it is something we hear about all the time in a range of different contexts.

In some ways this is a good thing. Mindfulness is a great tool to be aware of and it can be used to greatly improve your concentration, awareness, and happiness. But at the same time, it’s also a bad thing because it has been misinterpreted in many instances and many people don’t really understand what it means anymore.

With that in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at what mindfulness is and what it isn’t and how you can start using it to improve your life starting today!

The Basics

Mindfulness is often used to describe a type of meditation. Specifically, ‘mindfulness meditation’ involves reflecting on the contents of your own mind and how they might be affecting you. Whereas the point of some forms of meditation, such as ‘transcendental meditation’ is to completely ‘empty’ your mind. The point of mindfulness, though, is instead to simply detach yourself from your thoughts and become an observer. This way you can prevent them from affecting you and also gain a greater understanding of the contents of your own thoughts.

Often this is described as ‘watching the thoughts go past like clouds’. The idea is not to engage with them or let them affect you, but simply to observe them and to later reflect on how they might impact your happiness.

Other Uses

By doing this, mindfulness allows you to take some time out of your stressful day to remove yourself from your thoughts and thereby get some rest and relaxation.

But it’s not really just about meditation. What mindfulness also means is being constantly aware of your own thoughts as you go throughout your day. Some people will tell you to be ‘mindful’ of your body or be ‘mindful’ of your environment, but really what you should be focusing on is just what you are mindful of.

So the next time you go out for a nice walk with your family or you do something that you enjoy, make a note of  whether you are really focused and actively engaged on what you are doing…or is your mind elsewhere? Are you actually worrying about work or stressing about other things?

Mindfulness can teach you to be more aware of your thoughts so that you can decide to not allow them to affect you. You can then make a conscious effort to refocus and decide to be happy.

Mindfulness is not mysticism or linked to religion and it is not a ‘cure-all’ therapeutic technique. All this is…is a tool…better yet, a state of mind. With practice, you can learn to be more in-tune with your own thoughts and that can change everything!

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