What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a simple concept. Basically, it involves paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. All of us are mindful at times; however, because our minds are used to not being in the present, but rather off daydreaming, planning for the future, or thinking about things that have already happened, we spend very little time actually in the present moment unless we make a conscious effort.

 

 
 
Mindfulness is the act of bringing your awareness to whatever you’re experiencing in the present moment. A common definition of mindfulness, coined by Jon Kabat-Zinn who developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, is: The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally to things as they are.

When we don’t pay attention to the present moment, we go through life relatively absentmindedly, often distracted and on auto-pilot. We’ve all encountered moments of “mindlessness” when, instead of paying attention to what we are doing, our minds are off somewhere else: daydreaming, dwelling on the past, worrying about the future, or juggling so many things at once that our mind is all over the place.

Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to whatever we are doing while we are doing it, and whatever we are experiencing while we are experiencing it. We acknowledge whatever is going on in our lives, in the outside world and our inner experience, as it is happening.

zen sandWhen we practice mindfulness, we learn to deal with whatever is going on in our lives, and with our thoughts and emotions, without becoming overwhelmed. By paying attention to our experience from moment to moment we can start fully living our lives in the present, instead of functioning automatically and unconsciously, getting lost in our thoughts, or escaping into memories of the past or plans for the future.

Mindfulness meditation is one way to practice mindfulness, but since mindfulness simply involves paying attention to the present moment, mindfulness can be brought to anything you do. You can become more mindful without meditation, and even if you do practice mindfulness meditation, the benefits of mindfulness are greatest when mindfulness is incorporated into everyday life. Many of my clients never practice meditation and find other ways to bring mindfulness into their lives.

Learning to become more mindful is one of the most effective things you can do to help relieve symptoms related to depression and anxiety, lower stress, and develop insights about yourself and what your want out of life.
 
Guelph Therapist Greg Dorter

I’m a Guelph therapist incorporating traditional and mindfulness-based approaches to therapy to help people overcome issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and low self-esteem.

For more information about how you could benefit from mindfulness-based therapy, visit my mindfulness therapy webpage. To make an appointment for counselling or therapy, please call me at 226-500-4086 or email greg@guelphtherapist.ca.

 

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