Beyond the buzz…what does it really mean to be mindful?

It may have started as a trend amoung Silicon Valley tech companies, but mindfulness seems to be here to stay for all of us.

2014 has been called the “year of mindful living” and in  the past several months, mindfulness has made headlines in seemingly every major print publication and news site. No longer an activity reserved for the new age set, the public is looking to mindfulness as an antidote to stress and burnout, technology addiction and digital distractions, and a sense of time famine and constant busyness.

But beyond the buzz, what does it really mean to be a mindful person — and what do they do differently every day to live more mindfully? Mindfulness, the practice of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, is both a daily habit and a lifelong process. It’s most commonly practiced and cultivated through meditation, although being mindful does not necessarily require a meditation practice.

It’s the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.

Here are 13 things mindful people actually do every day to stay calm, centered and attentive to the present moment.

They take walks. Walking through green spaces may actually put the brain into a meditative state, according to a 2013 UK study. The act of walking in a peaceful outdoor landscape was found to trigger “involuntary attention,” meaning that it holds attention while also allowing for reflection.

They turn daily tasks into mindful moments. Mindfulness isn’t just something you practice during a 10-minute morning meditation session. It can be incorporated throughout your everyday life by simply paying a little more attention to your daily activities as you’re performing them.

They create. Mindfulness and creativity go hand-in-hand: Mindfulness practice boosts creative thinking, while engaging, challenging creative work can get you into a flow state of heightened awareness and consciousness. If you want to become more mindful but are struggling with a silent meditation practice, try engaging in your favorite creative practice, whether it’s baking, doodling, or singing in the shower, and see how your thoughts quiet down as you get into a state of flow.

They pay attention to their breathing. Our breath is a barometer for our overall physical and mental state — and it’s also the foundation of mindfulness. As mindful people know, calming the breath is the key to calming the mind.

They seek out new experiences. Openness to experience is a byproduct of living mindfully, as those who prioritize presence and peace of mind tend to enjoy taking in and savoring moments of wonder and simple joy. New experiences, in turn, can help us to become more mindful.  Spending time in nature is one of the most powerful ways of giving yourself a mental reboot and reinstating a sense of ease and wonder.

They feel what they’re feeling. Mindfulness isn’t about being happy all the time. It’s about acceptance of the moment we’re in and feeling whatever we feel without trying to resist or control it.  Excessive preoccupation with happiness can actually be counterproductive, leading to an unhealthy attitude towards negative emotions and experiences. Mindful people don’t try to avoid negative emotions or always look on the bright side — rather, accepting both positive and negative emotions and letting different feelings coexist is a key component of remaining even-keeled and coping with life’s challenges in a mindful way.

Meditation, the quintessential mindfulness practice, has been shown to be a highly effective intervention for managing emotional challenges including anxiety, depression and stress. People with mindful personalities enjoy greater emotional stability and improved sleep quality.

They meditate. You can be mindful without meditating, but all the research and experts tell us that meditation is the most sure-fire way to become more mindful. A regular practice can help to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost well-being. Research has found that mindfulness meditation can even alter gene expression, lowering the body’s inflammatory response.

They’re conscious of what they put in their bodies — and their minds. So often, we shovel food into our mouths without paying any attention to what we’re eating and whether we feel full. Mindful people make a practice of listening to their bodies — and they consciously nourish themselves with healthy foods, prepared and eaten with care.

They remember not to take themselves so seriously. A critical factor in cultivating a mindful personality is refusing to get wrapped up and carried away by the constant tug of the emotions. If you can remember to laugh and keep an even keep through the ups and downs, then you’ve come a long way already in mastering the art of mindfulness.

They let their minds wander. Engaging in imaginative thinking and fantasizing may even make us more mindful. Research has found that those whose daydreams are most positive and most specific also score high in mindfulness.

(Source: Huffington Post)

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