In the last few years Mindfulness and Meditation have become an ever-growing trend in our society, introducing these ancient techniques into the mainstream. While the latter is more commonly known or heard of, Mindfulness is rising in popularity. But what exactly is it?
In short, Mindfulness means being in and experiencing the present moment. While this might seem odd at first sight, we have to consider nowadays society’s tendency of disconnecting from the present moment. We live in an era of fast technological advancement, ever-changing trends and where stress is as normal as sleep. In fact, stress-levels and stress-related diseases are higher than ever before. But why?
Stress very rarely originates from the present moment. Unless there is a threatening situation or a current physical discomfort or illness. Most stress arises from focus on the past and future. We obsess about things that happened, were said or done and how we feel about them, playing them over and over in our heads. Or, we think about the things that might happen and can fall into a flat-out panic over them. By doing either one of them we create stress in the present moment, which influences our heart rate, brain function, mental capacity, productivity, health – in short, our whole physical, mental and emotional state. Even though what is causing this stress, is not happening in the here and now.
In Mindfulness, we bring our awareness back to the present moment, disengaging ourselves from the past and future. This means, that we become fully conscious of the here and now, release stress and by thus create a state of calm and clarity. This in turn enables us to think clearly, creatively and become more efficient and productive in what we are doing.
Releasing the past & future ≠ ignoring it
Mindfulness isn’t about ignoring or suppressing thoughts and emotions. It is about returning to the present moment, rather than obsessing about the past and future. If we, for example, focus on things in the past and future that stress us for 90% of the day, then we are in a stressful state for 90% of the day and it becomes a challenge to get into a calm state for even 10% of the day. If we practice a calm and clear-minded state for 90% of the day and then look at the past and future from that kind of mind-set, we experience less stress and can find positive ways of dealing with it. Then the remaining 10% are a less stress-full but rather observational experience, from which growth and creative solution-finding can commence.
How to be mindful
As mentioned before, being mindful means being fully aware of the present moment. Which means, that you can practice Mindfulness at any point of the day. E.g. when taking a walk, you can be mindful of every movement within your body, how your feet touch the ground, what you see, hear and smell around you. How your body feels in that very moment, any sensations within yourself and around yourself. The point is not to dwell on any of it, but just to be aware and consciously experience what is happening in the now.
With the increasing trend, come many studies that show the benefits of Mindfulness & Meditation on physical, mental and emotional health, productivity, creativity and more. We have compiled a list of such studies here.
But with everything that is out there, you only really grasp what it is like and what it can do for you when you try. How about incorporating it into your everyday life, even for just 5min a day? You could start with mindful eating, walking or exercising, and see what it does for you. The more and longer you do it, the higher the benefits (remember our 90% – 10% example). But you can start with 5min a day and build it up over time.
What is your experience with Mindfulness? Have you tried it before or are you considering it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!