The word mindfulness is showing up everywhere. Mindfulness is today where exercise and nutrition were in the mid 20th century. It is being recognized as something that has been proven to be an essential component to our health and wellbeing, but not 100% understood.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing in the present moment.
- The opposite of mindfulness: being tuned out, distracted or on autopilot.
- When you are practicing mindful awareness you are becoming more aware of what is happening around you and within yourself and allows you to tune into the present moment rather responding automatically or by habit.
- MRI studies show that practicing mindful awareness makes physical changes in the brain. When a person is being mindfully aware there is increased activity in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain- this is an area that is associated with concentration, attention, and emotional awareness.
- An important aspect of mindfulness is acceptance of ones feelings and being present without trying to judge or evaluate your experience What does that mean? Our brains will automatically judge things if they are right or wrong, good or bad, important or unimportant, stressful or not stressful and so on. Our brain is so quick to do so that our experiences are automatically tainted right when we get to them. Mindfulness allows us to be aware of that and consciously taking a new perspective.
Just like any other skill you want to improve on it must be practiced consistently, and can be done so both formally and informally. A formal practice would be setting aside 10 min at the beginning of your day to meditate. An informal practice would be where one chooses to be mindful during routine tasks and daily activities.
As you discover your personal practice of mindfulness, you will never cease to find an end to how it can positively effect your life. You will start to see an improvement in managing difficult emotions and stress, have an easier time with behavioral choices such as making changes in your sleeping and eating habits, and you will find your relationships growing stronger. As you continue to practice mindfulness you will continue to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit.