What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
With the rise of digital media and instant messaging, we have come to a point whereby many of us never really “switch off” from work. We have spent so much time thinking over stuff that has happened or worrying over things that might happen in the future, that often we actually forget to appreciate or enjoy the present moment.
Mindfulness practice is a scientifically proven practice that helps us cope with everyday challenges and difficult times. The practice of mindfulness has also proven to be highly beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing. The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.
Common Misconceptions About Mindfulness
- Mindfulness is not a religion. While various religions do practice meditation, it is really just a practice. With mindfulness practice/ meditation, there is no philosophy or doctrine to accept. In fact, one of the goals of mindfulness meditation is to free ourselves from views, and to see the world as it truly is.
- Mindfulness is not an escape from reality. Mindfulness practice/ meditation enables us to see reality without our views being influenced by our emotions or preconceived ideas. In fact, the definition of mindfulness is awareness of reality. Meditation calms our emotions, and the excess chatter in our mind, so we can see the world more objectively.
- ‘Living in the moment’ doesn’t mean living without any regard to the future and consequences. It simply means paying attention to our experience in this moment. The past has already happened and can’t be changed, the future will be determined by what we do now, therefore the present moment is the only moment where there is an opportunity to do something different.
Some of the most popular ideas about mindfulness practice are just plain wrong. When you begin to practice it, you may find the experience quite different than what you have expected. There’s a good chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Work-related stress is an all-too-common part of modern life especially with the work from home policy now. Many professionals may feel handicapped in a way as working from home (WFH) is not as productive as working in the office. The constant worry on how the future gonna unfold and affect them is what most people are worry about. The dynamics and environment is so much different and we need to give ourselves space to think and catch our breath.
So, how do we change? In this mindfulness session with Certified MBSR Mindfulness Coach, Ms Erin Lee, you will learn why we all need mindfulness in today’s world, what mindfulness really is, and how it benefits us. She will draws on modern mindfulness practice and ancient wisdom to demonstrate how mindfulness can help you make positive changes in your live.
Many studies have pointed to the benefits of practising mindfulness in improving our psychological functioning. In a review of empirical studies by Keng et al (2011), mindfulness has shown benefits in:
- Reducing self-reported levels of anxiety, depression, anger, perceived stress
- Improving positive affect, self-compassion, empathy, satisfaction with life and quality of life
Apart from our psychological health, mindfulness improves our physical health as well.
Mindfulness helps in:
- Better quality of sleep
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Reducing chronic pain
For some, the ability to focus attention and stay undistracted can be challenging. Research has shown that practising mindfulness helps in our cognitive functioning, with improvements in working memory capacity and attentional functioning.
Mindfulness Practice Journey – 8 Week MBSR Program
Since its development by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 and inception at the University of Massachusetts’ Stress Reduction Clinic, the widely recognized and researched Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program has helped many people cope with their stress and anxiety levels through the teaching and practice of mindfulness skills to regain emotional balance and well-being.
Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. Here are some of the practices on how to tune into mindfulness practice throughout the day:
- Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
- Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know.
- Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy when you are doing it alone. Facilitated by Ms Erin Lee, the MBSR learning process will include group discussions and some didactic teaching about stress, all of which are exceptionally important to the participant’s learning in the program.
The well-researched MBSR program consists of eight weekly sessions (about 2.5 hours per session) as well as an all-day retreat to maximize the effectiveness of facilitation and group learning.
The MBSR program is designed to encourage active participation and commitment to practice, and so participants are required to follow up on the home practice assigned to them each week.
Mindfulness practice taught in the program include formal and informal practices of observing our body, breath and thoughts, as well as gentle stretching movements. As you spend time practicing mindfulness, you’ll probably find yourself feeling kinder, calmer, and more patient. These shifts in your experience are likely to generate changes in other parts of your life as well.