What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of living in which you become increasingly aware of your thoughts and how they affect you on an emotional and physical level. The practice is attributed to the Buddhist religion and is believed to have originated over two thousand years ago. It is possibly quite a bit older than that, but that is where the modern credit lies.
While mindfulness is often attributed to religious practice, it is much more of a science and art than a dogmatic tool. The practical aspects can be used by any person on earth. One does not need to ascribe to any religion to reap the rewards of continued and dedicated practice. There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness, both on a personal level, and a societal one as well.
Four Benefits of Many
Awareness of life in the present moment is the main goal of the practice. Everything we have ever done or will ever do has been and will be in the present moment. We spend much of our time and mental energy in the past and the future. When we focus on right now, we enter a space where we are truly alive. Here are four ways that practicing mindfulness can directly improve the quality of your life.
Less Anxiety and Worry
If you suffer from mild to moderate anxiety, mindfulness practice can do wonders for you. By observing your thoughts, you will start to realize that fear and worry occur far outside of the present moment. Worry is obsession over something that "could" happen. It's looking into the future and becoming anxious over events that have nothing to do with the present moment. There is a fine line between being prepared, which can eliminate anxiety, and worrying. When you're in the present moment, you are focused on the here and now, and therefore can't be bothered by the future, or anxiety.
This is not to say that you won't feel anxiety as thoughts creep in, but, over time, you will be less and less affected by those thoughts. As this occurs, anxiety will greatly decrease, especially when coupled with some powerful relaxation techniques that are beyond the scope of this article. The worry and fear will subside, and you'll have gained a powerful tool to control anxiety and worry.
As you observe how your own thoughts manipulate your emotions, you might begin to notice how other people behave. You will gain a better insight into the possibilities behind their actions. You will notice similar patterns in yourself, and can become less judgemental toward others. You might even understand other people so much better that you will be able to step into their shoes and understand their pain. You will be in a much better state of mind as your judgement subsides and your empathy increases.
Things like anxiety, fear, doubt, worry, and judging can serve to separate you from the present moment. These emotions can cause great imbalances in your life. When you begin to understand them, you can stop them, and therefore, by default, become a happier person.
When you observe your thoughts, you'll find that the stress of competition, fear, anxiety, and impatience begin to vanish. That's not to say that you could become apathetic, but quite the opposite. You'll be able to gain a much broader perspective on where you are and what you are doing. Impatience occurs out of anxiety. With that out of the way, you might find yourself to be much more patient with yourself, others, and what you are doing.
These four areas are just a few ways in which mindfulness can improve your life. There are many mindfulness exercises that you can use to begin and improve your practice. Like everything in life worth doing, you just need to get started to start seeing results.