What Is mindfulness?
Einstein used to say that if you can’t explain an idea simply, then you haven’t fully understood what you are talking about. Let’s put this to the test, with the example of mindfulness. What is mindfulness? Can you answer this with just a few words? Let’s make it a bit easier (or harder) by saying that mindfulness is not meditation and it is not any kind of hypnotic trance. Have you made up a simple definition?
Well, mindfulness is about thinking your thoughts and emotions, while they happen. Like you can hack your automated thinking and feeling processes in order to identify patterns, to avoid irrational thoughts and to smoothly talk yourself out of panic and distress. This is why we say that mindfulness is closely related to science, as its starting point is the complexity of mind functions and how it can lead to faulty judgements.
Conditioning, risk aversion, our need to predict the future sometimes based on really poor evidence, there are all processes that we have internalized at early age and now they feed a vicious circle. We regret about the past , we worry about the future and amidst all these we forget to experience the presence. Mindfulness practice teaches us how to connect with the present by focusing (usually) on the breath and then kindly and without judgement to really notice how we feel. During a mindfulness session you will allow your mind to unwind and you will be able to notice your thoughts and their physical manifestations.
What makes mindfulness so valuable is that it resonates with science and spirituality and it is a great approach to dealing with challenging times, to connecting with ourselves and to tame panic and anxiety, by breaking the pattern. So, even if you are not an experienced meditator, the next time you feel anxious or tensed try to focus and your breath, put you hand on your heart and calmly tell yourself “it is just my thoughts and my thoughts can’t hurt me”. The more you practice, the easier will be for you to identify your thoughts and emotions and to label them without criticism or self punishment.
So, mindfulness is a state of better self-understanding that drastically impacts our well-being. Although it is a kind of mental exercise, you won’t need to sweat or to push yourself; it will come naturally, as all things that are right do.