Dr. Elisheva Jakobov-Assouline
Mindfulness is more than a buzzword. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness refers to “the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness is about trying to stay present without judging your thoughts and feelings and wanting to change them. Simpler said, it is the ability to be fully present, understanding what is going on around you without being overwhelmed or reacting intensely.
As humans, we all experience thousands of thoughts each day, often making it very difficult for us to be fully present in the moment. You may start thinking of your extensive to-do list that needs to be completed or what you are making for dinner, that slowly drifts your mind away from the present. This is what we call mindlessness. It is when you are doing things on autopilot, and simply going through the motions. When we operate on autopilot, our mind goes into default mind. Have you ever encountered making dinner for your family and simply going through the routine. Your mind most certainly may have wandered and thought about other things.
While this practice seems simple, it is fairly difficult to be mindful. However, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes over time.
Why should you practice mindfulness?
Research has shown that mindfulness has many positive physical and mental health benefits. It helps with regulating our emotions, and decreases stress, feelings of depression and anxiety. When one is emotionally regulated, they take on life with a healthier attitude. They make more informed decisions and are able to find meaning and joy in their life. Being mindful also helps one develop empathy and compassion and would make you a great listener (a skill needed for many things)! When one is mindful, they are able to better focus and pay attention. It also helps improve memory and performance.
What does being mindful entail?
5 Mindfulness Ingredients
- Paying attention: notice what exists within and outside you without trying to change it or denying that it does not exist
- On purpose: intentionally increase your awareness of your experience
- In the present moment: focus on the here and now
- Non-judgmentally: try to be curious about what comes up rather than utilizing a judgmental perspective
Mindfulness can be done anywhere you are. Whether you are eating breakfast, taking a shower, or driving to work, you can practice being mindful. Start with practicing mindfulness for a short period so you don’t become easily overwhelmed. Once you have mastered doing it for several minutes a day, you can gradually increased in terms of duration. By engaging in this practice you will begin to notice an increase of positive emotions, the ability to be present and engaged, and stop living on autopilot. Whether you are struggling with a mental health disorder, or not, mindfulness is a useful tool to implement in your day to day.