“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh
In a world where the average human attention span has been reduced to nearly 8 seconds, living in the present moment without being distracted by random thoughts and emotions is an achievement. So, how do you think you currently live if the above quote is valid? Are you living absent-mindedly or fully present?
State of Mindlessness
Do you usually start your day with restlessness and are always in a hurry? In addition, most of the time, you are complaining about inconsequential things like being stuck in traffic, or being frustrated with yourself because you overslept and will be late for the office. Maybe frustrated because it’s your turn to take the kids to school, but they have no clue about time constraints. It is frustrating because its one thing or the other.
“I don’t have time” is one phrase we use countless times. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself, who’s controlling your time, your life? What about your thoughts? Have you ever stop and observe your thoughts only to realize that they are erratic, with no aim?
Mindfulness And Why It’s Important
Almost everyone experience states of mindfulness at different times. However, what does mindfulness mean? It’s simply being aware of our thoughts, emotions, feelings? Is it about being aware of your surroundings without judgment, and labeling what we feel or experience?
You may think that such instances are rare. You would be correct. But why would you want to be more mindful? Isn’t your life OK without attempting to be mindful? The fact is, you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk or nun to be constantly aware? And you don’t need to be mindful all the time.
Here is a reality: If you were to look closely at your life, chances are it would be eye-opening to know you don’t live mindfully. However, adopting a mindful approach right now can affect your life positively. The benefits you’ll achieve in a short time will amaze you. Here are the most common benefits of practicing mindfulness:
Mindfulness Reduces’ Stress
Stress due to work, relationships, worldwide happenings, etc. affects all of us. However, you don’t need an external situation or circumstance to make you feel stressed these days. Even restless thoughts and current events you hear and read about every day can enhance stress levels. In current times, anxiety and depression are the norms. Practicing mindfulness can become a savior. A study by Hoffman et al. (2010) concludes that mindfulness meditation decreases anxiety and can help improve moods.
Mindfulness Improves focus
Practicing awareness reduces stress levels and helps improve the ability to focus extensively. You may already know how improved focus contributes to better health and overall well-being. Still, did you know mindfulness can help you enjoy every moment of life?
With high levels of focus, our life improves in every aspect. Moore and Malinalowski conducted various studies and concluded that mindfulness meditation and purposeful mindfulness correlate with cognitive flexibility and attention functioning.
It’s impossible to over-elaborate the effects of mindfulness and how it boosts memory. A study found that consistent mindfulness practice boosts the density of the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a vital role in short-term and long-term memory. With better cognitive recall, you have fewer chances of forgetting life’s important moments, enhancing the quality of your life.
Mindfulness Helps Break Bad Habits
We all want to make informed decisions, but how often do we find ourselves caught up in the pattern of our habits? According to Psychalive.com, mindfulness helps reduce negative habits by controlling our attention and decision-making process. This makes us aware of our choices and ultimately how we choose the actions that benefit us.
Consider the words of the famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh, when he said:
“The feeling that any task is a nuisance will soon disappear if done in mindfulness.”
With mindfulness, we can practice it anywhere and anytime. When we realize our lives are not in the future, but right here, right now, at this moment, we can choose to live with more presence. Here are two examples to consider.
Starting your day mindfully
The practice of beginning your day by being mindful of your breath has many other benefits. Here are a few of them:
- Stronger relationships
- Decreases depression
- Better physical health
- Increase body satisfaction
- Reduce distractions
Another form of mindfulness to consider incorporating into your life is eating mindfully. When you choose to eat with awareness, you eat less; you make healthy food choices. The act helps to be aware of what you put in your body and helps you be more cautious about the food you consume.
A Personal Story
Practicing Mindfulness is a personal journey for me. I am not an expert on the subject. But, in the past few years, I’ve chosen to be more mindful of my thoughts, emotions, decisions, and almost everything in my life.
That choice has improved my life in so many ways, some of which I’ve shared. Most of the time, our ego makes it difficult not to react to everything in our daily lives. Ultimately, my life improved in a manner that I could’ve never imagined because I choose to live mindfully.
I will sum up by quoting from the book by Yuval Noah Harari “Sapiens,”
According to Buddhism, the root cause of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even meaninglessness. Rather, the root cause of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness, and dissatisfaction….. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear, and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing- joy, anger, boredom, lust- but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasizing about what might have been.
Living mindfully is a choice to live your life every day by choosing to be present in all that you do. It’s also about being conscious about your thoughts and being aware of what and how you think.