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Mindfulness in Plain English: A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness and Meditation

What comes to mind when you hear the word “mindfulness?” Do you picture a Zen monk perched atop a high mountain? If you do, you’re not wrong. This image illustrates Buddhists’ mindful meditation practices. However, we often think that mindfulness can only be practiced by devout and spiritual leaders, and that only the most dedicated practitioners can benefit from it. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Understanding mindfulness is pretty straightforward. It is no more than the basic human ability to be fully present and aware of where you are and what you’re doing. It suggests that your mind is fully attending to what is going on around you, which makes you more aware of your senses, thoughts and emotions. This concept may seem trivial, but we often veer away from these practices as we become engrossed in thoughts about past occurrences or what the future may hold. These thoughts leave us feeling anxious, and this anxiety inevitability affects our abilities to be reactive to the present.

Things to Know About Mindfulness:

1. It is within all of us.

Mindfulness is not an obscure or exotic concept, because we all practice it whether we know it or not.

2. It’s backed up by science.

There is evidence that proves just how important practicing mindfulness is. Both science and experience demonstrates its numerous positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.

3. It should not encourage us to change.

It is meant for us to recognize and cultivate the best of who we are as human beings, not to encourage us to change who we are after we fail.

4. Your mind will wander.

There is no way to completely shut off all your thoughts, and that is not the goal with mindfulness. All you’re trying to do is pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. The wandering mind isn’t something to fear, because once you notice this you can consciously bring yourself back to the present.

Anyone can practice mindfulness, and it can be cultivated through various techniques. One of which is meditation.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a mindful practice where an individual’s goal is to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. It is about exploration. When we meditate we focus our minds on a particular object, thought or activity. We venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations, our emotions and thoughts.

When we practice mindful meditation we reduce stress and gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, as well as increase our attention to others’ well-being.

How to Practice mindfulness and meditation

Learning to meditate is like learning any other skill. It takes consistent practice to be comfortable. However, meditation doesn’t have to be the first step in becoming more mindful. We can practice mindfulness in our everyday lives in a variety of ways. Some everyday mindful practices include: cleaning, journaling about our thoughts and pausing and breathing when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it. By simply stopping and thinking about the present moment, we are being mindful as well.

Mindfulness might seem simple, but it’s not necessarily that easy of a practice. By making time every day to be mindful, you are one step closer.


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