Mindfulness became a buzzword a few years ago. One article I read in the Huffington post stated that 2014 was called the year of mindful living. My first introduction to mindfulness was through yoga practice. It was something I associated with awareness of my breathing and staying in the present moment.
According to research 47% of our days are spent on autopilot. We’ve all experienced those times when we get in our cars and suddenly find ourselves at the destination without much recall of the actual drive or find yourself absentmindedly munching on chips until you realize they’re gone. Further more, according to Harvard, when in a state of mindfulness people are generally happier. It seems to have little to do with what they are doing but more that they in a state of awareness while doing it. In 2011 an eight-week study on participants in a mindfulness program showed significant increases in the density of the brain’s gray matter. In years since there have been numerous studies that have pinpointed how this practice changes the brain and the physical body as well.
There is evidence that a mindfulness practice correlates reduction of symptoms associated with IBS, cancer, tinnitus and HIV and the more commonly accepted conditions of anxiety, stress, heart disease, loneliness and depression. As with most everything, what you put into it relates to the intensity of the results. The final conclusion is that practicing mindfulness leads to a happier healthier life.
What does it actually mean to be mindful and how can you incorporate that into your everyday living? The simplest way to explain mindfulness is to say it is paying attention to what you are doing in the moment while having awareness of your body and state of being while doing it. One of the tasks I am most mindful while doing is brushing my teeth. I am aware of how my arm moves, the flow of the water and where I am brushing. I also find that there is an added sense of intention when I am being mindful. Using the example of brushing my teeth, I have a clear intention of cleaning my teeth while following through with the action. Therefore, I am being precise with my brushing. I didn’t always brush this way. There was (and from time to time still is) a sense of going through the motions without really thinking about what I was doing.
I have found that there is definitely a difference in the action and also the way I feel about what I’m doing. Without the attention my actions don’t have a sense of fulfillment to them. I’ve heard other people talk about mindfully washing dishes. I’m not there yet. I have a tendency to check out while washing dishes and go into auto pilot mode. Is there a task that you are especially mindful while doing? What tasks do you zone out in? Do you have any helpful tips or questions about being mindful? Please regard this as an invitation to contribute to help us all be more mindful and increase the level of happiness you experience daily.