Mindfulness is essentially becoming aware and fully immersed in the present moment improving focus, along with other benefits, discussed below. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalart.net
Most of us have heard of the concept of “Mindfulness” – focussing your attention or your senses, purposefully and with full awareness.
There are many ways that we can practice mindfulness – we can channel our awareness to our breathing.
We can utilise our five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell so our sensory system is fully immersed on a tangible object – for example a lemon.
What are the benefits of mindfulness? Our minds learn how to slow down, but yet our cognitive ability when we are in this state is paradoxically better. It is intuitive that when we are not aware, or when we rush, oblivious to our surroundings, when we compromise oxygen to our brain by not breathing properly, our minds can’t function at their best.
Mindfulness can help us ‘get out of our heads’ – for example, we may be anxious or depressed. These conditions can render us introspective. We are susceptible to imaginings, or we may be in the past or the future. It is self-evident that our empowerment relies on our ability to focus on the now.
This is because we can’t change our past. As for our future, that relies on our decisions in the now anyway! So, the first benefit of mindfulness can be improvement in our effectiveness, and an improvement of mental health problems as mentioned above.
The practice of mindfulness, by virtue of the fact that it involves purposeful focus on breath or our five senses, may improve our attention: our ability to tune into what we wish to, in the presence of external distractions, or unwanted thoughts.
Mindfulness, by virtue of the fact that it stops us thinking, can render us more effective. As mentioned, when immersed in thought, we cannot be taking in our present surroundings. We can become focussing on actually getting the job done, not just thinking about it.
Mindfulness, because it puts us in a relaxed state, and involves us breathing properly from our diaphragm, may have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure. Our cells, organs, including our brain are getting more oxygen. We often breathe shallowly and not even realise it.
At first, we may find it challenging to perform a mindful activity. Our minds are inevitably often chatterboxes and we may find we have unintentionally shifted back to a state of distraction. This is completely normal. However, you will find with practice, you will get better, and reaps the benefits mentioned.