Mindfulness (A Comprehensive Guide)

Mindfulness

In this brief guide, mindfulness will be the discussed, definition of mindfulness, how to practice mindfulness, important points regarding mindfulness, limitations and benefits of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness:

Mindfulness is the alertness of mind in the present moment.

Mindfulness is the moment-to-moment heightened awareness of one’s own complete body, the thoughts, sensations, feelings, and surrounding environment.

This heightened awareness cannot be achieved without practice, as with the advancement in the modern age, people are surrounded by a number of distractions in the environment (e.g., technology, multiple tasks).

These distractions keep the individual wondering and grasp most of their attention on multiple tasks, which compromises the effectiveness of the situations.

Person involved in more than one activity simultaneously is at the risk of compromising the performance and quality of a lot of things at once, while the person focused on just one task have unmatched efficiency and effectiveness.

This inefficiency leads to depression, anxiety, stress, preoccupation, inferiority, low self-esteem and a lot of other pessimistic sentiments.

Mindfulness is the answer to achieve balance and complete efficiency in daily activities.

Mindfulness involves acceptance of the situation and environment, while at the same time making person to take decision on the here and now condition rather than dragging the past or imagining the future.

When a person is mindful their mind start sensing the environment in more precision and by staying in present resolve the situations in here-and-now.

Mindfulness (A Comprehensive Guide)

Mindfulness can be developed through meditation practise to improve well-being and reduce psychological symptoms.

It is often considered to contain two key elements: (1) attention to observation, with awareness of thoughts, feelings and body sensations; and (2) a focus of being open and accepting of experiences.

A commonly cited definition is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.

Background of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has its roots from Buddhist meditation, and it was adopted by Jon Kabat-Zinn with his work on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, introduced in 1979.

Since then, there are a number of studies done on the topic of mindfulness to check its effectiveness, benefits and inspired a lot of different domains to adapt the MBSR in the medical, academic and other professions.

The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is free-flowing; it is not fixed. Mind is the place which can never be blank and continuously working, and never get free from thoughts.

In meditation the person is working on their mind, and by becoming aware of the sensation in their body, emotions, and thoughts.

Mindfulness meditation suspend the judgement and curiosity which make us approachable to different experiences.

 How to Practice Mindfulness?

There are different ways of practising mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn the creator of MBSR model, claims that mindfulness helps our brain to reenergized and fuel the brain to activate those areas of the brain which are not normally activated, and we left our brain to function in autopilot.

To practice mindfulness, one needs to be totally self-aware, present situation, and keeping the focus on each and every body part, to everybody muscle and receiving the sensations from the environment.

Mindfulness (A Comprehensive Guide)

Basics of Mindfulness Practice

There are few basics to be followed for mindfulness, as mindfulness helps in understanding the difference between ourselves and our reactions.

The following simple tips can help to practice mindfulness:

Spare some time:

Most important to practice mindfulness is to spare some time, as practising mindfulness seems tiring and boring at some time.

For mindfulness, you don’t need specific meditation material or skills, but you just need some time.

Mindfulness (A Comprehensive Guide)

Experience the moment

To achieve mindfulness, ones need to focus on their present and trying to achieve personal calm.

Their goal must be to achieve the full attention of present without judgement.

Let your judgements roll by

When we start focusing on the present moment, our mind starts making judgements and you need to let these pass.

Keep observing the present moment

Human mind can easily get distracted with thoughts. Mindfulness is to gain awareness of the present moment again and again.

Kind to Wandering Mind

If you will try to grasp, and resist the thoughts coming and diverting your attention then it will be harder to keep your focus on the present and very soon the struggle will be grabbing and wandering journey of mind.

So, the technique is to let the thoughts flow and try to take your focus back to the present.

Important points to know about Mindfulness:

Mindfulness (A Comprehensive Guide)

1.     Mindfulness is not something new, or something we never experienced. Mindfulness is an experience we use to have, but get ourselves engaged in other tasks and fail to practice mindfulness.

2.     Mindfulness as said is not something new, this is the skill we already have, so we do not need any new material, we just need some spare time, and focus on our innate qualities by getting ourselves engaged in the conversations with loved ones, family, friends and neighbours.

3.     Mindfulness doesn’t ask for any change, the process is simple and the skill in in-born.

4.     Mindfulness is a transformation, and it helps the person to feel alive and wonderful

5.     As already stated, it doesn’t need special skills, that’s why anyone can practice mindfulness, and it can improve with practice.

6.     Mindfulness is a way of living, and it helps in relieving the stress

7.     There is empirical evidence for the mindfulness is available.

Techniques of Mindfulness

There are different types of mindfulness techniques which can be used, some of them are listed here.

Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass.

Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.

Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviours) and allow them to pass.

Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.

Tips for Mindfulness

There are a few useful tips for mindfulness, which are discussed here:

Redirect: One needs to redirect one’s awareness to the present, and take an exit from the daydreaming

Try again: The constant efforts of bringing one’s attention back is an effort which needs to be done again and again for the acceptance of one’s environment.

Limitations of Mindfulness

There are limitations of mindfulness meditation, and a lot of criticism is there regarding mindfulness.

Researches criticize that a lot of practice is required to achieve the claimed results.

Evidence has depicted that the mindfulness medication can help in improving the physiology, psychological and social benefits.

Mindfulness helps in increasing the grey matter in the brain and decreases the number of migraines.

It has been claimed that anyone practising meditation can benefit from it, ranging from school children to company executives.

Whereas, a number of researches have criticized the mindfulness researches on the basis of their study design, effect sizes. There are very limited benefits of mindfulness as explored.

Mindfulness requires patience and focus which is not easily possible for some people. It requires time of 15-30 every day for 5-7 days a week.

There is a heightened claim that mindfulness increases the calmness while sitting quietly is sometimes laborious and tiring.

Person went through trauma may have repeated flashback or images of the old memory.

Benefits of Mindfulness

There are a number of pros of mindfulness when we are talking about mindfulness we need to keep in mind that mindfulness originated from Buddhism.

The advantages of mindfulness attributed to the practice are as followed:

1.    Mindfulness improves well-being

Mindfulness improves wellbeing of the person, as it heightened the person’s awareness of their surroundings and help them to respond in a healthy way to the situations.

Mindfulness makes it easy for the person to engage in the activities and get the most out of these activities.

By having the increased focus on his present it helps to increase the self-esteem of the person as well as an individual builds a strong connection with themselves.

2.    Mindfulness improves physical health

The physical health of the person improves when they practice mindfulness.

The relief from constant stresses and feeling keyed up in situations is relieved by the activities of heightened awareness.

Mindfulness helps in decreasing stress which in turn decreases the chances of heart diseases, blood pressure, reduce pain, improve sleep and digestive complications.

3.    Mindfulness improves mental health

Mindfulness has always been thought of improving a person’s mental health. This fact has been researched in studies and studies found significant results.

The mindfulness meditation is an important element of certain therapeutic strategies.

Mindfulness proves to be the effective treatment for depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, conflicts, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

In this brief guide, the definition of mindfulness is described in detail, as well as the significant facts to know about mindfulness, along with the pros and cons of mindfulness, whereas few easy techniques for everyday use are discussed as well in detail, which can help the person to achieve heightened awareness of one present.

Frequently Asked Questions for Mindfulness

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an acceptance of present and the heightened awareness of moment to moment experiences.

How do you do mindfulness?

You can do Mindfulness by sitting comfortably in a quiet place and have relaxing deep breaths, and on each breath, you have to bring your focus to your breathing.

What are some mindfulness exercises?

There are a lot of mindfulness exercises, for example, 1-minute mindfulness exercise to stretch your body with a yawn for 10 seconds.

Three hugs and three breaths, mindfully eat something, clench fists, mindful breathing for 1 minute and a lot more.

Is Mindfulness a religion?

Mindfulness is not a religion but was adopted from Buddhism, as meditation remained the practice of that culture and mindfulness extracted from that concept.

References

Helpguide.org

Greatergood

Mindful.org

Recommended Reading

Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World 

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life 

A Year of Mindfulness: A 52-Week Guided Journal to Cultivate Peace and Presence 

Zen as F*ck: A Journal for Practicing the Mindful Art of Not Giving a Sh*t (Zen as F*ck Journals) 

THE HEADSPACE GUIDE TO MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS 

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Mindfulness (A Comprehensive Guide)

Daniela Paez

Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.