Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the internal and external experiences that occur in our lives as they unfold from moment-to-moment. It’s the ability to be fully present and aware of what is going on; around us and in us. Mindfulness also involves acceptance of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness helps us to focus our attention so that we can connect more fully to whatever is unfolding in our lives.
The work of mindfulness is very gentle. It makes our life experiences more vivid, more bright and real. It brings color and texture to our lives at a deeper level. By focusing our attention on the present moment we actually become more awake and feel more vibrant. We let go of the past and future and dwell in the present. We automatically become calmer, less reactive, and more accepting.
“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”
The most important part of any successful mindfulness practice is to keep-up the practice. It needs to become part of your life or second nature. In other words – it’s a lifestyle.
When practiced on a regular basis, mindfulness will naturally spill over into your daily life-giving way to positive long-term changes in both behaviors and increased levels of happiness and wellbeing. Neurobiologists are learning that mindfulness practice changes brain structure and function in a positive way and studies have indicated that it can be effective in alleviating a host of psychological difficulties ranging from eating disorders to the challenges of aging.
More and more people are adopting mindfulness practices to cope with many of life’s day-to-day challenges. Mindfulness practices need to be tailored to the individual and actually learned in order for the individual to reap the benefits. Keep in mind that mindfulness is not a cure-all and may not be for everyone. It is, however, a valid scientific-evidence based practice for positive personal development for the vast majority of the population.
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Published by Bantam Dell, NY