Have you ever found yourself to be struggling with staying in the present? The world has become immensely fast-paced as we are constantly finishing one activity and immediately moving to the next. This reality makes it difficult to take a moment and appreciate what is around us. That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is a practice of intentionally taking time to engage in the present moment – without judgement. The “without judgement” aspect is essential as judgement sabotages the appreciation one can have for the current moment. In fact, mindfulness is now being researched by scientists and results have shown that the practice can be beneficial in reducing stress and fulfilling genuine happiness.
The actual practice of mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, but many denominations engage in a similar act that attempts to calm the mind by feeling the wonders of the present. One of the extraordinary things about mindfulness is that it helps individuals savour the beauty of pleasurable experiences, without having to worry about what’s next. In savouring those pleasurable experiences, many become better equipped to handle struggles in life as mindfulness makes us understand why we need to appreciate everything around us. Mindfulness is about altering the way in which we view the world and the experiences we have by looking at each moment as an opportunity to better ourselves as individuals. The better individuals we become, the more able we are to make deep and meaningful connections with those around us.
Furthermore, mindfulness has been shown to improve both mental and physical health. By utilizing mindfulness techniques individuals can: relieve stress, improve heart function, lower blood pleasure, improve sleep, and reduce gastrointestinal issues. Equally, mindfulness can improve mental health as psychologists have found the practice to be important in treating: depression, eating disorders, spousal conflict, anxiety, and other mental ailments.
But, how does one practice mindfulness? There are different ways to practice mindfulness, but the goal is always to remain attentive by focusing on your present thoughts and emotions, again, without judgement. Mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation and they can be done by sitting quietly on the floor, closing your eyes, and repeating softly a word or “mantra” that resonates. This enables thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgement, and ensure you remain focused on your “mantra” or breathing as you do so.
Another important aspect to remember when practicing mindfulness is to remain cognisant of the way in which your body reacts. Keep track of your body’s subtle twitches and jerks as it reinforces the purpose of staying in the present.
Moreover, stay alert of the cravings you feel as you sit there. Let them come into your mind, but do not give into these desires as doing so eliminates all the work you have done to stay present. Remember, those feelings do not control you – you control yourself. Replace the craving with knowledge that these urges will subside as you focus on the moment in front of you.
Practicing mindfulness is not easy and it requires discipline in order for it to work properly. However, once the power of mindfulness is grasped there is no sensation like it as it affords everyone the ability to forgive themselves. No matter what has, or is happening in your life, mindfulness gives everyone the opportunity to forgive themselves and seek better.
Give mindfulness a try, you may realize something about yourself you never knew before.
Sebastian Farkas is a fourth-year honours student and Sports and Wellness Editor of the Athenaeum.