Why mindfulness is important and empowers us.
What have you got to do today? Pay that bill, send that email, call that person, remember that message, go to that meeting, do that job…the list can seem never ending. We are doing one thing while thinking about 10 others. Eating is an inconvenience as we sit at our desks, having a shower a distraction while the kids demand our attention. Our lives pass us by as we constantly jump from one thing to the next, rarely stopping to appreciate, savour and enjoy a moment.
Why mindfulness is important and empowers us?
The result? Stress, anxiety, feelings of being under constant pressure, no matter what you do you haven’t done enough. This is NOT how life should be and we all know it. Sure, there is work to be done but we aren’t robots here to perform as many tasks as possible before we expire. So how can we change our behaviour to be more aware of the “now”. To experience and enjoy life rather than just be passing through?
Perhaps the answer lies in Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment, being aware of what you are doing and paying attention to all the sensations you are experiencing. With practise, the feelings and sensations we experience should not overwhelm you or cause you to react, but you will accept as part of life and something you have more control over than you realise. You wonder if one could have reflected more on why mindfulness is important.
Why is mindfulness important?
Whilst mindfulness may sound like something to dismiss as wishy-washy, new age mumbo-jumbo, there is in fact a large and increasing body of scientific evidence supporting its efficacy for a large range of health problems such as helping with obesity, depression, sleep, stress and boosting the immune system.
Mindfulness promotes the growth of grey matter, the part of the brain responsible for muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. As such, practising mindfulness can lead to better memory, decision making and creativity.
All of these benefits can be had without having to really “do” anything, just change how we approach things. Once you are proficient in the techniques of mindfulness, it is something that is practised whilst doing the things you are already doing.
- Having dinner? Taste it. Notice the feeling of the food in your mouth, the subtlety of the changes in flavours, feeling of hunger disappearing.
- Having a shower? Feel the water as it runs over your body, notice where you are tense in your body and let those areas relax, notice your breathing, take slow, deep breaths.
- At work in an office? Hear the sounds around you, see the task at hand, let go of the responsibilities that require your attention after competing this task, the will still be there when you finish what you are doing, but you will be closer to your objective having finished one task well.
So, how do I do it?
The good news is that you don’t need any special equipment, or even a specific place. All you need is somewhere you can feel relaxed and a few minutes. Think of mindfulness as jogging for your mind.
Just as 10 minutes of jogging every day is great for you physical health, 10 minutes of mindfulness is great for your mental health. Also, as with jogging, it may seem hard when you first start out, but it doesn’t take long to find your groove. Finally, like with exercise, consistent practise is the key to getting the best results and often having an experienced coach can lead to getting those results sooner.
Mindfulness involves a form of meditation. You can sit, stand, or even lie down, as long as you won’t be distracted. Unlike many meditation techniques which require a person to clear their minds, mindfulness requires you pay attention to what is happening.
Notice your thoughts and feelings. Allow yourself to dwell on them, give them your full attention for a period of time, something we rarely do. Do not judge yourself or the thoughts and feelings, experience them, know they exist and that this is OK. As your mind wanders, practise bringing it back. Be in control of your thoughts in the present.
Over time, the weight of negative thoughts and feelings will lessen as you are better able to put them in perspective. The things you half consciously try to ignore because they seem big and scary soon become so small when brought into focus.
How mindfulness empowers us
Empowerment. It has become a corporate buzzword used to give people more responsibilities and make them more accountable. But let’s take that word back. Empowerment is really about becoming stronger and more confident, taking control, understanding your rights and defining your own destiny. That is what mindfulness looks to do.
So how does mindfulness empower us? By developing the tools that allow us to control how we react to our environment, to perceive our opportunities without fear and anxiety (or at least a lot less), to be aware of those around us and their inherent value in our lives, we are really taking back control.
Having the power to concentrate on and affect the present, to focus on controlling what we can control and let go of everything else frees us of the mentally and emotionally draining aspects of life that hang from us like a ball and chain. Mindfulness empowers you to see clearly, rationally and positively. Claiming back your mind is the first step in claiming back control of your life and your destiny.
While mindfulness is not a cure all that will make all your problems go away, it is a tool that will make all your problems seem more manageable, make you feel more in control of your life and its direction and allow you to be more in control of your environment rather than your environment controlling you.
To learn more about mindfulness, you can read more here.