Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing one’s attention on the present moment. It has ancient origins and is derived from sati, a fundamental part of Buddhist traditions, and is based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques. Professor Mark Williams, former Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, said that an important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations experienced. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. Mindfulness allows us to be more aware of our thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness isn’t for hippies or those who live off the grid. Elite athletes practise mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing and meditation before and during training and competition. Evidence shows compelling support for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which helps people to cope with stress and for Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which is designed to help people with recurring depression. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the creator of MBSR. Mindfulness can indeed help with resilience, improve mood, memory, attention, creativity, productivity, increase energy levels thus improving wellbeing.
With the average person estimated to have around 60,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day, it’s no wonder we can at times feel overwhelmed. We live in a fast paced world with many demands on our time and energy. While a person is focusing on a single thought at a time and being mindful, it is advised to not listen to the inner critic. The various mindfulness techniques can help bring a person back to the moment and filter out negative thoughts.
How can you become more mindful?
- Notice something new every day
- Keep it consistent
- Choose a particular time when you will practise to be mindful
- Free yourself from past or future thoughts
Mindfulness is very individual so a technique that may work for one person may not work for someone else. I challenge you to find a technique that works for you and be fully present. It takes practice.
Jolene King is Principal Consultant at 246 King Consulting and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.