Mindfulness seems to be one of those things that are talked about all the time as transformative and helpful. But there seems to be a good deal of confusion on what it actually is. Sometimes it feels like everyone has a different idea of what it is which can leave you still thinking “what is mindfulness?” Well read on to learn and get a free 10-minute mindfulness guide at the end.
I’ll be honest, when I first started looking into what mindfulness was, I was convinced it was meditation. Every single article seemed to tell me that I HAD to meditate to be mindful. Well, frankly, if I HAVE to do something to see any improvement in something, I’m going to have a much harder time doing it. I’m more of a throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks kind of person when it comes to learning new skills.
So I’m here to tell you, mindfulness is not a one size fits all kind of thing. It is something that can be tweaked and changed to fit your life while reaping the numerous benefits of it. Yes, some people sit in meditation every day but you don’t necessarily have to do that because meditation is not the definition of mindfulness. They are not the same thing. Meditation can be a tool for mindfulness.
Breaking it down to the very basics, mindfulness is simply awareness to your current moment and accepting your feelings, emotions, and thoughts without any judgement. Essentially, it is being self-aware and self-compassionate.
It can also be being aware of the current moment without wishing anything about it were different. Mindfulness is enjoying the moment now but also understanding that it’ll change (because that’s life) and being okay with it without fearing the changes.
Why does mindfulness help?
When you are mindful, you are a happier, healthier, and more intentional person. That’s not just a hippy dippy feel good claim either. Science has backed it up as truly beneficial for mental and physical well being. Mindfulness has shown to help decrease the risks of Alzheimers, anxiety, depression, and chronic illnesses (caused by stress). It has been shown to increase productivity at work, focus and an overall increased sense of happiness + well being.
Recent studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice helps your brain stay adaptable by creating new neural pathways and increasing grey matter in the brain. With these new neural pathways, you reduce the amount of shrinkage in your brain (that’s normal with age) thus, keeping your mind younger.
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Living in the Present
Mindfulness can help change almost every aspect of your life. It sounds like a far-fetched claim but hear me out. When you are feeling angry, hurt, or ashamed you are typically feeling things from the past. While those emotions have their time and place and you should always deal with your past so it doesn’t haunt your present, for a happy life you can’t let those emotions consume you.
When you feel anxious, scared, or apprehensive you’re living in the future. You’re living for what might happen. And let’s be honest, things almost never happen the way we expect them to, so we waste a lot of time worrying about literally nothing.
The way I see it, worrying means you suffer twice.Newt Scamander Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Feeling consumed by the past or living for the future does nothing except steal the joy of the present. Mindfulness teaches us to enjoy each moment which takes away a lot of the overwhelm from past and future decisions. It allows you to be happy when things are good, sad when things aren’t so good without judgement. Because if you’re not living in the moment, you’re missing the moment.
So what else is mindfulness? Yes my friends, you can get a little deeper than just acknowledging the moment with mindfulness. Enjoying life’s pleasures both and big and small can be a form of mindfulness. Taking pause to enjoy a warm breeze or savoring a fancy dinner are both mindfulness methods. Mindfulness encourages openness, curiosity, and compassion because you are simply aware of your body or mind’s needs again, without judgement.
Mindfulness is also partially all about simplicity. There is simplicity in accepting what is, being open to what will be, and accepting the past as the past. Choosing how you respond to each moment of your life cuts out the excess noise and makes life simpler and easier.
Because mindfulness helps cut through that annoying excess, you’ll find that when your practice being mindful, creativity and innovation flow easier. Personally, I think this is partially because being present in the moment you notice more and when you notice more around you, you’ll get more sparks of inspiration. You also have more mental space to think and so plans and ideas begin to form a little easier.
Mindfulness isn’t a practice
Mindfulness isn’t a practice, it is a lifestyle designed to bring intentionality, calmness and purpose to our lives. By living mindfully, you work towards simplifying the excess, practice self-love and compassion, and are aware of the decisions you make + feelings you feel. Through a mindful lifestyle you are taking yourself off of auto-pilot and are fully aware of the daily progress you make towards your best life.
Mindfulness is something we already all do
This may come as a surprise to many of you but most of us already practice some form of mindfulness. It is also a common thing in many cultures. Hygge, Fika, minimalism, Buddhism, are all ways of life that promote it some kind of way.
But beyond just religion or lifestyles, there a kajillion ways we spend some time being mindful. Remember mindfulness is being aware of the moment, enjoying the moment, and letting the moment be without judgement.
Many people practice:
- single tasking
- Watching the sunrise or sunset
- Yoga/Gym time
- Escaping into nature/nature walks
- Setting Intentional Goals
- Evening Walks
- Savoring that first cup of coffee
- That moment when you wake up on Saturday and revel in the fact that it’s the weekend
- Making time for your hobbies
- Self care
- Taking a deep breath before a test, interview, etc
- Expressing Gratitude
When we ask what is mindfulness, we forget that it is a tool that you’ve already been using in one way or another as you can see from the list. However, you probably don’t incorporate enough mindfulness into your every day. By being more conscious when you’re practicing mindfulness or intentionally being mindful throughout your day, you’ll begin to reap the rewards that mindfulness can bring.
Mindfulness in its simplest form is an awareness and appreciation for the present moment.
Use it to create an intentional life for yourself; a life filled with joy, adventure, and memories. Be aware of your emotions and work through them so they don’t pollute every present moment. Practice mindfulness to live a healthier + happier life. And choose to make mindfulness part of your lifestyle.
So, real quick ask yourself, what are you feeling right now? Do you need anything – food, water, sleep? Are you dwelling too much in the past or reaching too far into the future?
And finally while I have you hear I’ve got special gift for you. Call it your reward for wanting to improve your life and incorporate more mindfulness into your days. Sign up for The Fulfillment Pill’s email list right now and get FREE access to my handy dandy resource page. It is designed to help beginner mindfulness practitioners to ease into mindfulness for better long-term success with it. Learn 4 techniques that you can do in 10 minutes or less (hence the name), almost anywhere.