Mindfulness is a way of training the mind to be present. It is a secular meditative practice, which involves paying attention to what is happening as it happens, and doing so with an attitude of kindness, acceptance, and non-judgment. As such, cultivating mindfulness results in greater self-awareness, and enables us to become more joyful, more empathic, and more resilient. We can learn to respond with greater wisdom and flexibility to difficult emotions and experiences, and learn to live with greater happiness and vitality.
How do you practice mindfulness?
In essence, mindfulness is very simple, but when an individual begins practising it for the first time, it can seem very difficult. Our minds are used to racing around at an incredible speed, jumping from thought to thought. We are often lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future, and are rarely awake to the present moment. However, with patient and persistent training, our minds gradually settle down, and we are able to live with a greater awareness of the present moment, as well as of our inner emotional and mental states. This non-judgmental awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, healthy social relationships, and sound mental health.
Mindfulness is taught in a highly systematic way. In order to train the mind, students of mindfulness begin by focusing their attention on one object, most often the sensations of breathing. Naturally the mind will wander, becoming distracted by thoughts, sounds, and emotions etc. The practice involves training our attention again and again to come back to the present moment. Gradually, the mind will become quieter and more concentrated, and students will be able to maintain present-moment awareness for longer periods of time. Accompanying this training of attention is the cultivation of non-reactivity and non-judgment.