Mindfulness, what exactly is it?
You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the term, especially in regards of well-being. It's mentioned in just about every type of media that you come across, so just how do you do it? It's all about focusing on your breathing when you're stressed, or imagining yourself being calm, right?
Mindfulness – a simple explanation.
Here are a few definitions of Mindfulness to get you going.
- “Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” 1
- “Mindfulness is wordless. Mindfulness is meeting the moment as it is, moment after moment after moment, wordlessly attending to our experiencing as it actually is. It is opening to not just the fragments of our lives that we like or dislike or view as important, but the whole of our experiencing.” 2
- “Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way. When a person is mindful, they:
- Focus on the present moment
- Try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future
- Purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them
- Try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.” 3
- “Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment – without interpretation or judgement.” 4
- “Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.” 5
- “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” 6
- “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.” 7
So as can be seen, it has two major components to it. Firstly, there is observation and genuine acceptance of what is observed, which leads to being engaged in the moment. Secondly, there is the action of choosing not to react with judgement to this observation and experience of being present in the moment. Sounds easy, but it actually takes a lot of practice and commitment to consistently achieve this state of being! Especially in this day and age with so many expectations and burdens put upon us all by ourselves, those around us and our larger communities.
ISN’T MINDFULNESS JUST FOR BUDDHISTS?
Absolutely not! In my opinion, this is a key instruction of all religions and spiritualities, getting us to be truly living in the moment and without judgement of the Self or others, regardless of what is occurring. This is something that many religious and spiritual texts talk about at length.
I recently read a beautiful quote of Sylvia Boorstein, in this regards and would love to share it here:
- “The Dalai Lama once said, “My religion is kindness.” I think everybody’s religions are about kindness even if they don’t frame it that way. Either explicitly or implicitly the core teachings are that it’s a kindness to give up egocentricity and to love your neighbour as yourself.”
ISN’T MEDITATION THE SAME AS MINDFULNESS?
No, Meditation is a tool which can assist with accessing a state of Mindfulness, but it is not actually Mindfulness itself! Through practising Meditation one eventually gains the ability to quiet and still the Mind from intrusion, allowing one to be in the moment of quietness, but you can actually be Mindful at a loud concert, quietness is not necessary to be in a Mindful way. There are many things one can use to become Mindful, for some it could be playing golf, for others it could be jogging, for others it could be any process that induces a state of being in the zone, such as the process of preparing the veggies for dinner! And that is what Happy Snappers is all about. Getting in the zone, easily, through the use of photography, which has been shown in studies to be one of the simplest activities that induce this state of genuinely being in the moment. Check out our “Benefits” page for some extracts from these studies.
RUSS HARRIS ON MINDFULNESS MYTHS