Mindfulness has become something of a buzz term in recent years, but what does it actually mean and why should we practise it?
In this article you will learn:
- What mindfulness is
- Why you should practise mindfulness
- How you can practise mindfulness
Mindfulness, often confused with meditation, is about being present in the moment. Mindful.org defines it as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Meditation can help to cultivate mindfulness. Mindful.org explains: “When we meditate it doesn’t help to fixate on the benefits, but rather to just do the practice, and yet there are benefits or no one would do it. When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being.”
So what are these benefits and why should we all be practising mindfulness?
1. It reduces anxiety
According to Chloe Brotheridge, author of The Anxiety Solution, mindfulness can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and prevent people who struggle with anxious thoughts from spiralling into them.
She said on an episode of Live.Life.Better.: “Mindfulness is being in the present moment and if you find yourself reacting or having the same kind of negative thoughts again and again, if you’re more mindful, you’re aware before that starts to happen and you feel like you can start to notice, ‘Oh, I’m starting to have this anxious thought that I’ll make a fool of myself at this party.’ Or whatever it is, and actually think, ‘No, actually I’m just going to stay in this moment. I’m going to take some deep breaths.’
2. It improves your sleep patterns
In the busy 21st century world, sleep problems are one of the most common complaints that adults have. And having sleep problems affects many other parts of life. But, according to Rohan Gunatillake, mindfulness expert and founder of meditation app Buddhify, practising mindfulness can improve your sleep.
“Over the course of a day we build up a lot of mental momentum and having such an active mind can make going to sleep really challenging,” he says. “By using various mindfulness techniques we can learn to move our attention away from the machinations of our thoughts and into the relative peacefulness of the body.
“We can also work directly with our thoughts so they lose their hold over us. The result is better sleep patterns, or at least a balance and acceptance when it comes to our sleeping patterns.”
3. It helps you avoid burnout
Richard Branson is an advocate for practising mindfulness. He says that it’s “one way that many entrepreneurs choose to combat the toll wrought by round-the-clock emails, long working hours and other aspects of our accelerate business culture”.
In many ways, new technologies are to blame for our need to practise mindfulness – Richard notes, “everybody began to notice that while work and one’s private life used to be strictly segregated, the line had blurred”. He adds: “Burnout is now a very real threat for many workers around the world.” And that’s why he thinks that more people should practise mindfulness – stating that it is as important as any major technological upgrade.
“When I went on holiday with my family recently, I wasn’t afraid to switch on my out-of-office email message,” he says. “When was the last time you did the same? If you can’t recall, then maybe it’s time to slow down, switch off your phone and focus on the present.”
And if Richard Branson can take time out and switch on his out-of-office, then why can’t you?
For more on how to practise mindfulness right now, check out five minute mindfulness fixes to practise at your desk.
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