Mindfulness trains your mind to find stillness in the very present moment. From a still place inside you, can can better observe how you tick. You become more aware of how your own unique cogwheels of feelings, thoughts and behavior interact. Mindfulness helps you be still long enough to be able to know yourself better and not just act on autopilot. Like a scientist, you put the microscope of your aware attention onto yourself to understand more clearly what is going on in your mind. You become more aware of how much of you is made from habit.
If you can be still enough in the very present moment, you can become more aware of your habits and make better choices.
By being aware in the very present moment, usually using the breath as a focal point, the mind slows down enough for you to watch its nature. This helps still the mind and many people find relaxation as a side effect. But the real purpose is to become more engaged with your life and others as you learn to live with more openness, clarity and vitality.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
“First we make our habits and then our habits make us.”
John Dryden, poet
This Dryden quote points out that sometimes it is difficult for us to notice our habits because we are our habits. You may have blind spots in your self-awareness. Mindfulness is a set of skills and state of mind to help you see yourself through your habits. You place the center of focused and unbiased attention on body, feelings, thoughts and actions and watch them live in the very moment. The academic most widely credited for bringing mindfulness to the Western world, says:
What is meditation like?
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If you practice mindfulness frequently, the clearer awareness you learn from this new healthy habit can also become a more active and automatic response to your everyday life. Your mind feels clearer, relationships deeper, emotions proportionate, you can more easily let go of repetitive negative thinking and can even sleep more soundly.
"Between stimulus and response there's a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom."
Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
When you can slow down your reactions in this way, you may come to see yourself in slow motion. You could then more accurately press the ‘pause’ button on your automatic dominoes-effect reactions and choose to make better choices. Another great quote to describe this comes from Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning:
"Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."