Mindfulness, another 21st century buzzword. Everywhere you go you hear about being mindful and working on mindfulness. Many workplaces are offering courses on mindfulness as a means to improve wellness. So what is it and why all the hype about it?
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is defined by the Miriam dictionary as:
- : the quality or state of being mindful
: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also: such a state of awareness
Another simple definition is “being in the NOW” or to be fully present. Generally speaking, most people go through their day with a constant internal dialogue going on, replaying past conversations, contemplating future conversations, thinking about what you need to make for dinner or worrying about some future event. Being mindful means quieting all those voices in your head and really paying attention to what is happening in your world at that immediate moment.
WHERE DID MINDFULNESS COME FROM?
As much as the current “mindfulness gurus” hate to admit it, as they like to take credit for “inventing” it (and make money off teaching it), mindfulness is a 3000 year old tradition based in Buddhist Shamatha Meditation. Eastern cultures (particularly in Tibet, India, and Nepal) have practiced meditation for centuries.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS (MEDITATION)?
According the the Buddhist monk, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche in this book, Excellent at the Beginning, the benefit of practicing meditation is that it cultivates the mind’s natural stability and clarity allowing for clearer insight. Huh? What does that even mean? Well, if one’s mind is stable you have the ability pause and reflect before reacting to situations. If one’s mind is clear you may be able to see beyond the immediate situation to the deeper meanings/reasons for what is happening. If one’s mind is stable and clear your thoughts are not clouded by your ego. You are better able to cultivate a sense of calm in stressful or demanding situations. In today’s society being able to be calm and react more slowly is definitely a benefit to a person’s health. Everyone’s adrenal glands are working overtime reacting to stressful situations, causing a host of health problems. Being mindful helps reduce the stress you feel in your life and thereby counteracts the negative physical effects stress has on your body.
What are your thoughts on mindfulness and meditation? How have you incorporated it into your own life? Comment below to join the discussion!