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Why Should You Practice Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

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Before I list the benefits of practicing mindfulness, let’s first try and understand what mindfulness means.

Mindfulness has its origin in and forms an integral part of the Buddhist tradition. The term Sati in Pali literally means “memory” and is used with reference to the phrases mindful and thoughtful which mean the constant presence and full awareness of the mind.

In Buddhism, Sati is one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. It is the opposite of delusion and one of the 7 faculties that lead to Nirvana (state of enlightenment or Moksha) when coupled with awareness and understanding of whatever is taking place.

It means being fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, actions, external surrounding and bodily movements, but in a non-judgmental way without intellectualizing them or believing if they are right or wrong.

It is about being present in the moment and experiencing it without letting your thoughts go astray. By being aware and present, you train your mind to not think about the past or worry about the future.

You learn to become more aware, be present, be focused, align your mind and body and accept others and yourself.

Several health benefits have been associated with practicing Mindfulness. It has been known to positively impact physical health by helping people cope with illnesses like cancer and heart ailments. It is also increasingly used to help people deal with depression, addiction and stress related ailments. Even if one is not addressing any of these physical and mental illnesses, one can benefit immensely through increased self-awareness.

One doesn’t need to be religious or spiritual to practice Mindfulness. The famous MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program developed by John-Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts has gained popularity in the Western world and has been used successfully since 1976 for treating chronic illnesses in extremely non-religious settings.

So why should you practice Mindfulness?

1.     For improved focus and concentration.

2.     For living and stress-free life.

3.     For increasing your happiness quotient.

4.     To accept yourself and others.

5.     Focusing on the present and in the past of future.

6.     For overall physical and mental wellbeing.

7.     To live a more meaningful life.

8.     For better emotion regulation.

9.     To deal with chronic pain and illnesses.

10.   For heightened self-awareness.

Some of popularly used Mindfulness techniques are described below in brief:

 

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1.     The Raisin Exercise:

This is a simple practice where all senses: sight, smell, taste and thoughts are used to fully experience the act the eating. The practitioner is asked to consume a raisin slowly with full awareness and focus. She is then asked to describe the experience.

2.     Mindfulness of Breathing:

Breathing comes naturally to us. So much so that we don’t even bother to pay any attention to it. Yet when you bring your awareness to the breath and focus on the inhalation and exhalation, it synchronizes the mind and body ensuring you are in the present moment, thereby increasing the awareness.

3.     Yoga Nidra:

In this lovely practice, you lie down in shavasana (corpse pose) and learn to bring your awareness to the different body parts and relax them one by one. This requires lot of concentration and by the end of it you are completely internalized and in a meditative state. It is a wonderful practice for relaxing and de-stressing.

4.     Chidakasha Dharana:

In this practice you bring your concentration to the eyebrow centre and observe the thoughts that arise without intellectualising or judging them. You move from one thought to the other without staying on any one thought. If your mind wanders, you bring back your focus on the eyebrow centre and refocus.

You can practice Mindfulness while performing very basic daily tasks like brushing your teeth, cooking, reading, even speaking and listening. By applying your full focus and concentration, you can bring about greater awareness and deeper meaning in your life.

Of course practice make you better. Be patient and be mindful that everyone will progress based on their own experience and understanding.

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