Mindfulness in its modern meaning is inspired by a concept present in the Buddhist tradition. People often spend most of their time thinking about the past and the future. They do their daily tasks while their mind is wandering wherever. We are either in our past when our mind wanders and stops on bad experiences, feelings, anger and regrets. Or we are in the future when our mind wanders often feeling sad because of unaccomplished dreams and anxiety arise.
Mindfulness is a lifestyle. It is to live the present moment with awareness. It means to choose to direct all our attention to what is happening in the here and now, with a curious, open and non-judging spirit. Here are certain things that mindful people do to live better :
- Meditation : Studies have shown that meditation is the most effective way to become more mindful.
- Turn Daily Tasks into Mindful Moments : Mindfulness can be practised everyday, simply by paying full attention to daily tasks, e.g. drinking a cup of tea or taking a shower.
- Deep Breathing : Bring your attention to your breath, you don’t think of the past anymore, you don’t think of the future, you don’t have to make an effort to stop your thinking, your thoughts will subside.
- Do One Thing At Time : Many people spend their days with a split attention and constantly multitasking, this behaviour keeps people away from the present.
- Choose When to Avoid Checking Their Phone : This means consciously deciding when not to use it in particular situations, for example with loved ones, and to avoid beginning and ending each day by checking e-mails.
- Conscious of What They Eat : Mindful eating is fully focused on the act of eating, paying attention to the tastes and sensations, rather than feeding carelessly while we are involved in other activities.
- They Feel : Mindful people don’t try to avoid bad emotions or negative thoughts, rather, they accept that both positive and negative emotions, nice and bad thoughts, can come and go like sea waves.
- They Play : Sinking into a game lets us grasp the present moment, the only place where we can find happiness.
- They Walk : Walking through green spaces may put our brain into a “meditative state” meaning that attention and reflection are tied.
- Don’t Take Them Seriously : Living a mindful way means to avoid being overwhelmed by emotional flow, maintaining humour about daily problems.
To have psychological techniques at our disposal, drawn from a 2500-year-old tradition, which appear to change the brain, shape our behaviour for the better, and offer intuitive insights about how to live life more fully, is an opportunity that may be difficult for psychotherapists to ignore. Only time will tell what we make of it.