Your Body Is Present But Is Your Mind? Being Mind Full Or Mindful!
Practicing mindfulness has numerous benefits and they reflect on the individual’s life. It helps improve one’s memory, attention, and focus
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Ria a young professional who perfectly blends into the hustle and bustle of Mumbai takes around an hour and a half to commute to work and looks forward to the cab ride as “me time” for relaxation. However, on her regular mornings, Ria is usually occupied with thoughts on what next in office, how will she finish her tasks for the day, the loans she needs to pay, her next holiday plan, the argument she had with her mom last night, the issues she is facing in her relationships. By the end of her ride, Ria who expects to be feeling calmer and in touch with herself ends up feeling burdened with thoughts which keep her preoccupied and tensed the whole day! What do you think? Was she mind-full or mindful?
Let’s take a look at the meaning of Mindfulness. John Kabat – Zinn, who is very famously known for his work in the field of Mindfulness. He defines the concept as “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Now, this can be understood in many ways than one can imagine. However, let’s understand the basics. There are two main elements that establish the foundation of any and all mindfulness – centered approaches – i) Awareness and ii) Acceptance.
Maybe the most famous mindfulness-based exercise was developed by John Kabat-Zinn and all it involves is eating a raisin. Although usually a raisin is popped into our mouths without a second thought, this particular raisin exercise slows the process down quite a bit and teaches one to pay attention to the look, feel, weight, taste and texture, along with any and all of thoughts flow in relation, to make the point that it is possible that our attention can be focused on many different possible paths and that, with guidance and training, can be expanded into one’s conscious attention and learn to focus it as and when necessary. The second main element, in addition to growing awareness of one's present experience, is the element of acceptance—mindfulness practices teach folks to learn, observe and accept the ways of thought and experience that run past through their mind.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness has numerous benefits and they reflect on the individual’s life. It helps improve one’s memory, attention and focus. It also improves self- confidence, problem-solving skills and helps accept criticism better. It has also proven to reduce anger and hostility while also boosting the immune system by reducing chronic pains and physical concerns and preventing mindless activities.
A simple technique to experience mindfulness is “Focussed attention”, a simple exercise which can be practiced at any time of the day. Focused attention is the brain's ability to concentrate its attention on a target stimulus for any period of time. We use focused attention, or mental focus, to attend to both internal stimuli (feeling thirsty) and external stimuli (sounds) and is an important skill that allows us to carefully and efficiently carry out tasks in our daily lives.
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
- Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly.
- Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity.
- Detect and forgive mind wandering (ex. thoughts)
Practicing mindfulness is easy, you can begin with just observing your thoughts and being with them to several techniques which you can research further and practice like,
- Mindfulness Seeing - consciously noticing everything in your visual range.
- The Self - Compassion pause – taking moments throughout the day and practicing self-compassion
- Movement meditation – Doing simple movements which calm your mind and create awareness.
- Worry Surfing - View thoughts and feelings as surfing on a wave – turn awareness to warning signs of negative feeling like worry or anxiety and ride the wave as it passes and let the negative emotion go with it.
By using the above mentioned simple techniques, Ria’s worries may not vanish miraculously, yet she will be calmer and her mind will learn to focus on the present and not the future or past. The whole point of mindfulness is to get in touch with our inner self and in a world where there is always some pending tasks on the to-do list, find the time to just be!!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house