We live in a busy world, our days are full of activities, and our mind is a constant jumble of thoughts. It is easy to get caught up in a routine lifestyle, walking around with an ever-growing to-do list on your mind. You may experience burn out too soon if your life has no space for anything except work. Sometimes you need to slow down in this fast-paced world and see things from another perspective. With the 7 attitudes of mindfulness, you can gain a fresh perspective. One that can help lighten your burdens and let go of negativity.
If you want to have a fuller life experience, you should consider practicing mindfulness. The history of mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation, and has gained acceptance by people worldwide. It is a mental exercise that requires a person to pay attention to the present moment, tuning out thoughts about the past and the future. When practicing, we do not judge thoughts, feelings, and sensations as either good or bad. We simply accept them.
Jon Kabat Zinn developed a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in 1979. He defines mindfulness as an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, non-judgmentally, in the service of self-understanding and wisdom. He is the author of the much-acclaimed Full Catastrophe Living (on amazon). You can read more about what mindfulness is here written by Jenny Birkett.
When you are in a state of mindfulness, you focus on the present moment. Your mind can calmly accept your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations and give you a feeling of well being. It is all about a heightened awareness of the present time and everything happening in it. If you make it a habit, mindfulness can help you relieve stress and regulate your emotions. It can also help you cope with anxiety and depression.
Both terms do not mean the same thing, although they interrelate. Meditation is when an individual uses different techniques to train awareness and achieve a clear and stable mental and emotional state. Mindfulness is one of the techniques that people use for this purpose.
Meditation practices require certain conditions to be in place.
The foundation for bodily meditation is our five senses. When doing this exercise, you begin by noticing five things you can see. Next, you notice four things you can feel, then three things you can hear. After this, you move on to 2 things you can smell and lastly, one thing you can taste.
You can do this exercise while sitting, standing, or lying down. You begin by taking a deep breath in through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Each breath cycle should last for 6 seconds at most. You can start with a one-minute exercise and progress to three minutes. Mindfulness practitioners find the three-minute breathing exercise popular.
You can carry out this exercise by simply laying down and doing a mental scan of your body. As you breathe, you think of how your body feels presently. You will notice areas of your body that feel sore, light, heavy, and so on. In some areas, you may even notice a lack of feeling. You should not neglect any part of your body during the scan.
In mindful listening, you try to focus on a sound or sounds around you. It requires deep concentration not to let your mind wander but keep focused on the sounds. You can listen to music, naturally occurring sounds, or dedicated messages.
An excellent example of this is the raisin exercise, where raisins are the object of focus. You can use any other food if raisins are not available. For this exercise, you observe the food as if you have never seen it before. You touch it, smell it and taste it, taking your time to savor every feeling.
This exercise requires you to think of about five things that usually go unnoticed and unappreciated in your daily life. It may be people or things. The objective of this exercise is for you to give thanks.
This is a meditation practice that connects us to the natural environment. You practice the observation method by selecting something from your immediate surroundings and focusing on it. Visually explore this object as if you are seeing it for the first time. Notice the colors, pattern, and texture.
Many people believe that mindfulness meditation produces positive results. They believe that mindfulness strengthens the mind and reduces mental stress. There are several other advantages you can get from being mindful.
A study has shown that the practice of mindfulness can boost the immune system. It also helps with stress reduction. Jon Kabat Zinn established the MBSR to assist terminally ill people in dealing with stress and anxiety. (Read more about the health benefits of mindfulness here).
People who practice mindfulness experience a balance in emotions. Many believe that it can help in reducing negative emotional reactions and increase cognitive focus. It can also encourage compassion and altruism. It encourages people to be kinder, more tolerant, and more emotionally intelligent. This helps them behave in ways that improve their relationship with others.
Mindfulness can boost your brain capacity. Research has found that it increases the density of grey matter in the brain regions associated with learning and memory. It can sharpen your ability to focus and effectively tune out distractions.
Experts suggest that mindfulness may help in improving symptoms of mental illness. A study on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder showed that it could reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Other studies show that it helps reduce anxiety, depression in expectant parents.
When you are mindful, you may develop healthier eating habits. You can maximize the pleasure gotten from every morsel and don't need to eat a lot to have an enjoyable meal.
In his book “Full Catastrophe Living” (on Amazon), Jon Kabat Zinn discusses the following:
Humans are naturally swift judges of themselves and others. Without thinking too much, they can categorize some things as bad and others as good. The non-judging attitude requires us to set aside prejudices that prevent us from seeing things just as they are. We all have biases that color our thoughts and shape our reactions, whether we are conscious of the fact or not.
Putting our preconceptions on hold as we practice mindful meditation helps us view things more objectively. The practice of mindfulness involves watching, judging thoughts without pursuing, or acting on them. To be non-judgemental is to be open to something in the present moment adding nothing to it.
Accepting whatever thoughts or feelings that pop up during mindful meditation are a conscious action. Acceptance takes courage. It is hard not to turn away from certain feelings or try to let go of others. Acceptance does not mean that you have to resign yourself to the current situation, especially if it is unpleasant.
Acceptance is the first step you need to take if you desire a change. Refusing to acknowledge and accept the present can bring problems for the future. The energy you are using to deny your thoughts or concerns can actually be more useful for finding a solution if you accept things as they are.
Everyday life has already programmed our minds to hurry things up. We love to see the results as quickly as possible. However, mindfulness is a process that requires patience if you wish to reap its full rewards. Patience shows that we understand the wisdom of due process. It means to accept that things must happen in their own time. Learning patience in the place of mindful meditation can help you show patience in your daily life. This will improve your relationships and make you happier with yourself.
A know-it-all attitude can deny us the richness that mindfulness can give. You should not allow the pride of how much practice you have put in, stop you from seeing and accepting things like it is the first time. To have a beginner’s mind is to have the willingness to see everything as if for the first time. It calls for you to forget what you know.
People with a beginner’s mind trust the meditation process more and therefore get more from it. A beginner’s mind ensures that you have a fresh experience each time you observe the practice.
Mindful meditation works best when you do not strive for results. A non-striving attitude means that you do not force something in or out of your mind. Instead, you concentrate carefully on seeing things as they are in the present moment. Regular effort and patience are what make mindfulness a non-striving way to reach your goals.
Knowing how to let-go is important in mindfulness practice. Jon Kabat Zinn says that letting go is fundamental to the practice. Mindfulness requires that we release our thoughts and feelings to roam freely. But along the way, we may find something that may want to hold us back. Truly letting-go is letting things; feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations go in whatever direction they will.
Mindful practices work when you trust yourself and trust in the process. You need to trust your mind and body to lead you to awareness. Trust is an essential attitude because you may find it hard to cultivate all other attitudes without it. Your subconsciousness will not work towards a goal that it does not believe in. Trusting your wisdom and goodness is an integral part of meditation. Without that trust, you will find letting go a hard thing to do. If you trust that everything will sort out itself, it may eventually happen in good time.
The number is not conventional. Some say there are nine attitudes instead of 7. However, there are two other attitudes of mindfulness you can inculcate; gratitude and generosity.
Scientists have proved that gratitude can affect your life positively. We have found people who keep gratitude journals to have fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives, and be generally more optimistic. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude encourages determination, attentiveness, and better sleeping habits.
People who feel grateful are more likely to help someone in need. They tend to be more kind and empathic.
There are times in life that we wish we could just pack our bags, move to a different place, and start afresh. Our minds can be the escape that we desire. Mindfulness is a way to transport ourselves to a place of serenity and come back to the real world, refreshed. It is not expensive and does not require an elaborate process.
There are certain habits that you need to inculcate to maintain awareness from moment to moment. There are seven major ones, but gratitude and generosity make it nine attitudes in all. Practicing mindfulness is about acceptance and being kind to yourself.
The next time you feel overwhelmed by everything in your life, take a moment to do some mindfulness practice.