Ever head the phrase “be mindful of those around you”? What exactly is being mindful all about? More specifically, what is mindfulness, a word that has been associated with everything from enhancing meditation to achieving many things like weight-loss and success? Let’s find out more.
A Path To Enlightenment
Mindfulness, as many of us know it simply from our vocabulary, means “to be mindful”, to have awareness, attention, and focus on certain things. It is to be able devote the mind to be aware and be able to perceive things properly.
But in the community of wellness, meditation, and spirituality, mindfulness means something more. It is not just a state of mind, but is also a practice, to be able to sharpen one’s focus and awareness to be mindful of whatever is happening around, to be fully in the moment so one is able to pay attention on purpose, as if every passing second is crucial to one’s life. It is the ability for one to engage all their senses even in the simplest situations, to fully absorb all the stimuli the universe has to offer.
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In a way, it can be defined as a stepping stone towards the Buddhist idea of enlightenment, which is a state of being where the attentive awareness of the reality of things has been reached, allowing one to truly overcome the evils of the world like greed, anger, delusion, and more.
A More Practical View
While many have embraced mindfulness as a fully spiritual and cosmic state of being, many psychologists in mainstream science have also accepted mindfulness, although in a more practical sense. Many of these psychologists define mindfulness as having these three important pillars:
1.) Seeing things beyond normal – in layman’s terms, thinking out of the box, going beyond existing labels of people, objects, and events, that are given by society, to be able to always see beyond what things are just “supposed to be.” For example, a rock is not just a rock, it is also an art piece, a primitive tool, a toy, a small piece of a bigger whole.
2.) Focusing on the means and not just the ends – in today’s results oriented society, the bottomline is often the goal, regardless of how one gets there. But by being mindful of each step, on the process rather than the result, one is able to grow as a person and not simply be a slave to the rewards. For instance, a student who is more focused on getting an A in a test may resort to cheating or other nefarious means, whereas a student who is more focused on learning, may get an A in the test as a result. The latter is more mindful.
3.) Open mindedness – the ability to always welcome new information and facts, rather than being unreasonably stuck in one’s own old, outdated, or even wrong beliefs, allows for proper growth and fully experiencing the universe for what it truly is. To be able to do this, one should always be open minded, as well as see things from other people’s points of view, to constantly learn.
So for the Western and scientific communities, mindfulness is about being fully aware of every single experience, which, when seen side by side with the Buddhism-inspired idea of mindfulness, becomes much more similar to one another.
Benefits Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has a number of benefits that are beyond what is listed here. In general, it can help one become more aware, more focused, more immersed in each experience, and overall can lead to a happier, more fulfilled life. It also has the effect of giving one more control of their life.
In addition, it can also do the following:
1.) Improve health and weightloss – by being mindful of the food one eats, as well as fully experiencing the eating process rather than just gorging on as much food as possible.
2.) Improve brain function and benefits – mindfulness practice (which will be discussed below) can improve brain activity.
3.) Better decision making – being mindfully aware of different things causes the brain to lessen if not eliminate its bias on old ways and allows one to make better, more realistic decisions.
There are many other benefits of mindfulness, which will be discussed in a future blog post.
How To Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is not an on-off skill. Nor is it simply an end-goal as a state of mind. It is something that is constantly grown and nurtured for the rest of one’s life.
One can practice methods such as mindfulness meditation, which can actively train the mind to be more mindful, but it has to go beyond that. Actively pulling yourself to be mindful when distractions pull you away have to be done. Like, when you find yourself eating too fast, slow down and savor each bite. Before reacting in a conversation, take a short pause, process what is said, and then respond. Things like this can help you be more mindful and cultivate mindfulness.
As mentioned earlier, mindfulness meditation can help improve this. A basic process for mindfulness meditation is as follows:
1. sitting in an upright posture with legs crossed and gaze low.
2. recognizing natural thoughts and complex thoughts.
3. removing all past and future concerns and problems from the mind.
4. breathing properly and using it as an anchor to the present.
5. allowing the mind to rest.
To further improve your mindfulness through mindfulness meditation, listen to this binaural beats track for deep meditation.
Meditation can be done in various ways. One way is with the use of music embedded with binaural beats, such as this one which was created with frequencies of 8-13Hz and 108Hz. Found within the Alpha range, it pertains to a tranquil state of consciousness that affects the inward awareness of the body and mind.
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