Life can only be found by living in the present moment – and mindful awareness or ‘mindfulness’, is the key to accessing the amazing benefits that living in the present offers!
What is Mindful awareness?
Mindful awareness is focusing your attention on what’s actually happening in the moment, without any judgement. You create a healthy distance from your thoughts and feelings so you can have more control over them. You can then consciously respond to life in more productive ways.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the first teachers of mindfulness in the West, tells us that: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Mindfulness is the practice of learning to become more aware, or “awareness training” that helps you to pay more attention to what is happening now, and importantly, learn to accept what is there. When you increase your awareness, you learn to live your life more awake.
It has been said that mindfulness is moving around the world with your eyes open.
Acceptance decreases stress and increases emotional balance.
When you accept a situation, you are less likely to reject or deny what’s happening, which can cause much emotional conflict and stress. With mindful awareness, you’re encouraging yourself to be somewhere, i.e. here, rather than trying to get anywhere.
It’s important to point out that acceptance of the situation doesn’t mean resignation or approval; this would be too passive, and could make you feel helpless. Mindfulness is more about openly acknowledging and allowing what’s happening. So, then you are free to work positively and constructively towards a resolution without feeling resentful or sorry for yourself.
Living in the moment
Most people have heard of “living in the moment” or “being in the present”. How many times have you been told not to dwell on the past or live in/worry about the future? “Relax and just go with the flow” seems to be a popular cliché these days. But mindfulness is more than just a cliché.
With commitment and patience, dedicating time to mindfulness practice with an attitude of care and respect, you can be more in the moment. So, you can find yourself coping better with what life throws at you.
Using mindfulness to increase your health.
The practice of mindfulness actually enables you to handle problems better and feel less stressed because it balances the mind, as well as your emotions. If you continue being controlled by your mind, and therefore not mindful, stress and personal suffering is more likely to continue.
Research has shown that mindfulness essentially changes the brain by slowly increasing the number of brain cells in certain parts of the brain- called neuroplasticity. These adaptations can help you regulate emotions and behaviour, and improve cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness also enhances your capacities for planning and problem solving, as well as memory and learning.
Studies have demonstrated a reduction in the size of the amygdala, which is the seat of our fearful and anxious emotions, so you can experience less stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness benefits your health with:
- A greater sense of calm and relaxation.
- Reduced levels of stress, worry and angst.
- Feeling a deep sense of happiness.
- Reduction in levels of anxiety.
- Better sleeping patterns.
- Better control over habits.
- Less emotional turmoil, namely, unsettling highs and lows.
- A deeper knowing, understanding and acceptance of who you are, as well as of others.
- An increased ability for compassion and understanding.
- Actual structural changes in the brain leading to enhanced mental clarity, memory, and creativity.
- A sense of contentment.
- Enhanced relationships.
- Improvements in particular physical complaints including stress, chronic pain, headaches, hypertension.
- Improved motivation.
- Spiritual enhancement.
Mindfulness practice reminds you that underneath your troubling emotions and negative thoughts is a deep sense of calm, joy and peace.
It is the action of intentionally using the five senses to bring complete attention to your experiences of the present moment. While letting go of judgements and biases, so you can be less reactive to what’s happening in the moment.
You grow an internal pause button or mute button that allows you greater control over your reactions to life. It connects you with what’s happening right now – rather than your stories and interpretations.
When you are able to observe your thoughts and the reality of a situation, then you can control your behaviour and reactions. This decreases your stress, balances your moods and enables you to enjoy the beauty of life right here, right now.
This is why mindful awareness is a key pillar of the MaKE My Health program. It offers so many health benefits – both now and for your future!