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Have you ever wondered why the sound of water crashing on the shore seems so serene? Or why sometimes, even though you have a million things to think about, your mind is just blank? At that time, do you feel light with your thoughts flowing freely like wandering clouds? Well, this is Mindfulness. Being in the moment, appreciative as every moment passes, feeling every breath, witnessing every colour in the sky without suggesting changing or merging a colour with the other.

Mindfulness is to focus on the now and not to get overwhelmed by what’s going to happen. Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. To be mindful is to monitor and perceive our thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body in a self-realising manner. The components of mindfulness, namely awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance of one’s experiences, thoughts and feelings while identifying and managing difficult emotions. Jon Zabat-Zinn has described mindfulness very accurately; he says, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Photo credit:YD news.

Mindfulness finds its roots in ancient spiritual traditions, emphasized in Buddhism, a spiritual tradition that is at least 2550 years old. In Buddhism, Sati in Pali or smriti in Sanskrit is said to be the first step towards enlightenment in the noble eightfold path. Sati means the “moment to moment awareness of present events” but also “to be aware of something” which comes directly from Buddhist theory. Jon Kabat-Zinn is mainly responsible for spreading mindfulness from eastern countries to western countries where now millions of people practice mindfulness on a daily basis like a habit.

In Today’s world, we are so caught up in our thoughts, our daily routine life, that we have forgotten to pause and feel everything around us. While we keep complaining about what we don’t have and keep on working day and night to achieve it, we forget to appreciate the simplest things we have and/or own. Practicing mindfulness helps us appreciate those small things, it makes us see the world from a different perspective — of peace and patience. We strive for control over everything around us, we want things to go a certain way and if it doesn’t happen as planned, we then try to control how we feel instead of letting our natural humane processes take over. Trying to control what’s not in our control will only disappoint us. Mindfulness teaches us to let go of that craving for control and let our natural human instinct, that functions on what ‘needs’ to be done now instead of focusing on what ‘should’ be done, take hold.

While we are practicing mindfulness, we silence our thoughts. Not by suppressing them but letting them flow, by taking a step backwards and observing what we think, how we think, when we think and how we address all those thoughts. We pause and reflect on how we see things and trust me; you’ll be surprised to know that most of us have so much negative self-talk that if you hear your own thoughts only then will you realise the extent of self-demoralising we do everyday, every hour and for so many years. This type of silence is very powerful because it heals and nourishes us.

You can practice mindful meditation while you are traveling in the bus, standing in a queue, or eating. Whenever you feel yourself getting lost in the directionless wandering of your mind, just close your eyes, and focus on your breathing and smile while opening your eyes after a few seconds. Following are some ways you can use to practice mindfulness: -

1. Mindful Breathing

This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. You just have to focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Don’t try to control your breathing, just focus on it, if you find yourself losing track of your thoughts, try to come back by slowly focusing on your concentration.

2. Mindful Concentration

The second exercise is that while you breathe in, you follow your in-breath from the beginning to the end. If your in-breath lasts three or four seconds, then your mindfulness also lasts three or four seconds. Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through. Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through. From the beginning of my in-breath to the end of my out-breath.

3. Mindful Observation

This exercise is simple, but incredibly powerful because it helps you notice and appreciate simple elements of your normal environment in a more profound way. You just have to look around yourself and observe the world. You might notice someone running across a street or school children laughing and joking with each other outside a shop. Whatever it is, just observe and let that information seep in.

Photo credit: online academy university.

4. Mindful Awareness

This exercise is simply about being aware of what you’re doing, where you are going, why you are going and so on. It shouldn’t be so that you are just wandering around without a purpose. So, the next time you are doing something, know that you have to be aware of the reasons you’re doing it for.

5. Mindful Listening

This is about opening your ears to hear your thoughts flow like they usually do but without intervention and judgements. This will also help you to hear and train yourself to not let the past experiences and influences take over in a healthy manner. In this exercise, all you have to do is listen to yourself like you listen to others. Mindfulness is a technique that brings joy and happiness making us self-aware of our thoughts and developing us to focus on the now, the present moment, the feeling you have now and the thoughts you have running around your mind. In short, it means to not get overwhelmed by the future, disheartened by the past but to be motivated and be present in the now — Today.

Written By: Ms. Zosha Khan


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