Mindfulness does not conflict with any beliefs or tradition, religious, cultural or scientific. It is simply a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells. Anything we might not normally notice. The actual skills are very simple, but because it is so different to how our minds normally behave, it takes a lot of practice.
Animals and young children are very good at being mindful, in the present moment. They are just as they are, not thinking about the future or attached to the past.
Mindfulness can simply be noticing what we don’t normally notice, because our heads are too busy in the future or in the past – thinking about what we need to do, or going over what we have done.
Being mindful helps us to train our attention. Our minds wander about 50% of the time, but every time we practice being mindful, we are exercising our attention and becoming mentally and emotionally fitter. We can take more control over our focus of attention, and choose what we focus on, rather than allowing our attention to be dominated and controlled by those thoughts that distress us and take us away from the present moment.
Mindfulness might simply be described as choosing and learning to control our focus of attention, and being open, curious and flexible. It is about being “alert and available”, open to what is right now with non attachment.
5 benefits of mindfulness
1. Reduces anxiety: Daily centering cultivates a peaceful, clear state of mind. This state reveals amazing truths that will define the source of anxiety and the course of action needed.
2. Change of Perspective: Mindfulness practice like meditation allows for other options to emerge in our lives. It prevents us from being rigid in our thoughts.
3. Non Reactive: It helps us to learn to create a space between intake and output and gives us an advantage of really choosing our responses rather than coming from a reactive space.
4. Self-acceptance: This is the ultimate the goal. In stillness we can hear our own voice, connect with our core beliefs and honor our needs.
5. Self-Love: Mindfulness helps us to appreciate ourselves and incorporate self love into our daily lives. This is the beginning of the best relationship you will ever have: the one with yourself.
When we incorporate the practice of mindfulness in our lives it enables us to live a richer, more fulfilled life. We learn to live life without complaining, to appreciate the simple things in life. We become more kind, caring and open. The benefits are numerous.
In our yoga practice we can cultivate mindfulness by becoming aware of sensations and feelings, thoughts that may arise whilst in a posture. Whether it be easy or more challenging, we must just be aware. When we become the observer instead of becoming involved in our thoughts and stories, we begin to experience the sensation of flow. Our lives flow like water and everything is as it ought to be, like nature.
Lou is a blogger & yoga teacher. After completing evolations primary teacher training in July 2011, she is now traveling the world (current stop: evolation yoga – Sunshine Coast in Austrailia) to share the yoga love.