What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness’ benefits include reduced depression and insomnia and improved memory, focus and pain management

Mindfulness is the practice of paying close attention to what is happening with your body and mind in the present moment. 

It’s a way of training your mind to not get caught up in revisiting past events or trying to project into the future, both of which can lead to stress and unhappiness. 

Immersing oneself in the right here, right now gives us a break from the constant chatter within and distractions from outside our brain, which have ballooned in number and severity over the past decade or two. 

You must work at setting aside your tendency to judge whatever you observe as “good” or “bad.” Everything just is. 

There are two basic ways to practice mindfulness:

Mindfulness meditation — set aside time in your day to sit down in a comfortable, stable position away from distractions and tune in to your present moment. Maintain good posture, bring your attention to your breath and other sensations in your body, then home in on your breath as you inhale and exhale. When done, lift your gaze and begin to observe your surroundings as you think about how to spend the rest of your day. 

Daily mindfulness — this means going about your daily life with a healthy focus on whatever is happening in the present, whether it’s eating a meal, brushing your teeth, talking to a friend or driving your car. It’s resisting the tendency to live long stretches of your life on autopilot, without noticing important details like how much you’re eating at lunch or whether you’re thoroughly cleaning your teeth. This can be especially powerful when done with physical activities like yoga and sports.

Whichever approach you’re taking, your mind will inevitably wander from the present moment. It’s natural and nothing to worry about. The very act of noticing those thoughts, then allowing them to float away and pulling your focus back to the present is a powerful exercise for training your brain. It’s at the root of many of mindfulness’ benefits including reduced depression and insomnia and improved memory, focus and pain management.