More than a buzzword: What is Mindfulness? | MindTheApp

Mindfulness might seem difficult to achieve, but it’s actually simple to practice and conquer.



Mindfulness is a loaded, often misunderstood word. The first thing that may come to mind when we think of mindfulness is yoga or meditation, but they are not the same thing. One is a state of mind, the other is a way to get to that state of mind.


What is mindfulness?


Simply put, mindfulness is awareness. It’s about living in the present. It’s about focusing on what is happening in this moment, instead of ruminating on what happened yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. When put this way, it’s natural to feel that mindfulness is a fleeting concept, and that it’s difficult to understand.


How do we live in the present?


When we are mindful, we are aware of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.


How can I practice mindfulness?


When practicing mindfulness, we have to pay attention to what we’re doing and do it on purpose and without judgment. Even the smallest, simplest tasks can be done with mindfulness.


For example, a simple task that we can do mindfully is make tea. We can make tea mindfully by focusing on the different steps we need to take, e.g. boiling water, choosing a favourite mug.


Our mind will have the urge to wander to other thoughts such as how our day was, what’s troubling is in the moment, and what issues we might face tomorrow. These thoughts put our mind and body on autopilot and make us feel stuck in a loop of unpleasant thoughts and emotions.


By bringing our attention back and focusing on the task at hand, we stay present in the moment.


The last, but equally important component of mindfulness, non judgment, can be challenging. Doing something non judgmentally means not attributing any quality to what we’re doing, not criticising our actions.


That doesn’t mean that we can’t have any thoughts about our actions, it’s actually normal to do so, but when we realise that we’re having critical thoughts such as “I’m not good at making tea,” or even “making tea is easy, but I’m not good at anything else,” we let those thoughts be, and gently guide our mind and our attention back to what we’re doing.


We can say to ourselves, “It’s okay that I’m having these thoughts. Now I’m going to pour water into my mug,” and observe the task you’re doing.


Achieving mindfulness takes practice. Sometimes we might find it very difficult and other times easier.


Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life:


Brush your teeth. Chores can make our mind drift, so brush your teeth mindfully by focusing on the movement and sound of the brush, and the taste of your toothpaste.


Pick an outfit. We do put a lot of effort in how we look to others, but try to please yourself by focusing on the texture and colour of the fabric. If you think “Do I look good in this?” try to think “Do I feel good in this?”


Go for a walk. It’s very common to walk with destination in mind, but we often lose sight of our surroundings. Even when you walk towards a destination, consciously notice the sounds and colours of nature, buildings, and people.


The real achievement is not to completely empty your mind, but to allow yourself to focus on what’s important in the present.


 

Despoina Peichamperi

Despoina wants to make mental health support more accessible to everyone and believes that having personal agency is an important part of that. Despoina loves reading and writing fiction and hanging out with her dog.