If anyone has ever told you that mindfulness is important, you might, understandably, think you have a grip on what that means, and immediately make a decision about whether or not you need to change anything. “I’m already being mindful,” you might think, especially if you think about your surroundings a lot and know how you feel about them.
Mindfulness, though, is more than that. It’s experiencing life as it happens, rolling with, not judging it, and living your life that way. This is a long way to say that mindfulness is perhaps not easy at first, but the steps to get there can be understood by anyone. On top of this, mindfulness can even help your overall health.
Just Being You
You’ve probably been told “you’re good enough just being you,” and that person telling you this was absolutely right. Digging deeper, though, is a way to find out who you really are. This might involve meditation or other practices. Many of us are classic over-thinkers, but never quite peer behind that curtain of our own psyches and truly pay attention to our own thoughts and why we have them. Mindfulness also involves looking deep into your own actions and how your body feels and reacts in certain situations.
Mindfulness is an extension of willpower that, interestingly, involves letting the world happen. Think of your mind as a butterfly. It can be tempting to catch it and look at it, but you’ve interrupted its journey – this is overthinking. What would you see if you instead followed the butterfly and thought about its journey? There’s more of a story in following the butterfly, and more lessons to be learned. Mindfulness is all about letting the butterfly exist in its own beauty, and thinking about that, instead.
Mindfulness and Health
Several studies have been conducted on the health benefits of mindfulness. There is evidence to suggest that actively practicing mindfulness can help with managing stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and help people to better cope with serious illnesses. The ability to relax tends to increase, as does self-esteem and general enthusiasm for life.
When it comes to meditating as a mindfulness practice, one study also showed a link to changes in the memory section of the brain, as well as the regions involved with learning and emotion. Mindfulness can even change your health habits, especially as you become more aware of your surroundings. This will change your awareness of how and when you eat or snack, and if you’re doing these things compulsively, rather than taking the time to enjoy them.
Being more self-aware can start immediately. You might need a quiet room for meditation, but you can begin mindfulness now. Awareness of the body and mind and everything they are doing can seem overwhelming, but that simple awareness is where the categorizing of these things begin. The more things you are aware of, the more things you can begin to understand, including which of those things you have control of.