Can mindfulness make life more enjoyable?
A look at mindfulness and how it may help to improve your daily life.
Do you often find it difficult to focus on one thing at a time? Do you sometimes feel like life's speeding by? If you answered yes, mindfulness practice may be just what you need to feel more grounded and centred in the now.
What is mindfulness?
The effort to quiet the mind and be aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions in a non-judgmental way is called mindfulness. Mindfulness practice means bringing your attention back to the present by focusing on, and accepting, what is happening right now.
Is your mind full?
So often we get caught up worrying, or thinking about the past or the future, that we can forget to concentrate on what's happening right now. Clinical psychologist and counsellor Elisabeth Shaw says today's fast pace of life can sometimes lessen people's enjoyment of it.
“Our attention is drawn in so many different directions and there are competing imperatives all the time: completing work on the train, talking on the phone, being on your iPad – all at once. There's a general consensus that this hectic pace is going to take its toll. We've lost the art of just being in the moment,” she says.
How can mindfulness help daily life?
Researchers at Icahn and Yale Schools of Medicine have found 10 psychological and social factors that contribute to stronger resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from the effects of stress. Among these factors are being fit, facing fear, having faith, having a moral compass, and having meaning and growth in your life. The study found that mindfulness is a pathway to developing these factors.
Shortly after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (a blood cancer) in 1997, Sydney copywriter Katherine Pranic was introduced to mindfulness. She says the practice “felt natural” and that she immediately saw the benefits.
“We can go through life on autopilot and forget about the simple things. Mindfulness taught me to acknowledge feelings without becoming attached to them, be more aware of my thoughts and stay in the now. It brought a sense of peace to my life,” she says.
''We can go through life on autopilot and forget about the simple things.''
Ways to be mindful
There are many ways to bring mindfulness into your daily life. Focusing on sensations in the body; concentrating on your breathing; observing sounds, smells and emotions as they arise; guided meditation; yoga; and doing one activity at a time are all forms of being mindful.
But these are not the only ways. Shaw reminds us that some personalities may not adapt well to these forms.
“Busy personality types may not take to yoga or seated meditation. They may need a faster paced practice, like going to the gym. We all need to find our own way of being in touch with our own internal experience,” she says. “There are a range of things that are under the heading mindfulness but essentially they are all designed for us to slow down, catch up with ourselves and enjoy life.”
Of course there's an app for that.
Being mindful (paying attention) to your thoughts, feelings and actions is a way to connect with yourself, slow down and enjoy the moment – this one right now.
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