Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Mindfulness is a topic that I find discussed often in mental health circles. It is a very powerful concept, yet extremely simple. When was the last time you stopped to listen your breathing or to focus on your heartbeat? Most of us live very busy lives, whether we are busy chasing after our dreams, busy tending to our families, or busy being anxious and depressed. We seldom take the time to just listen to our bodies. We rarely take the time to focus on the current moment and the current moment only.

Mindfulness is Buddhist idea that focuses on living in the present moment and becoming fully attuned to the body's primary functions, feelings, and awareness itself. Another more modern definition calls mindfulness a psychological quality that involves bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis. It is something that can be very soul-cleansing and therapeutic if used properly.

It is very simple in concept, but not so simple in application. It calls for focusing on the current moment and only the current moment. It sounds easy, but if it was so simple there would not be all this talk about it. It requires casting aside all thoughts of the past and future in order to think only of the present moment.I think we've all discovered this to be easier said than done.

It very closely mirrors the ideas of meditation. I have not have tons of success with meditation yet myself, for the same reasons. It is hard to dispel those past memories or ideas of the future. It causes anxiety for me at times, at first, when I try. But when I am able to get past that initial nervousness and realize that it just comes from this being such a different experience for me, I am able to relax. We just spend so little time in this state in our regular lives that this (entirely natural) state becomes extremely foreign to us.

Meditation, however, is a whole different animal. Mindfulness is relatively easy to achieve and to achieve satisfaction from. It starts with just listening to your body's autonomic functions that you take for granted. Listen to the sound of your breathing, watch as your chest inhales and exhales. Listen to your heartbeat and feel it in your chest. Even if you can feeling beating in your abdomen and that worries you because it is a symptom of your anxiety. Just listen to it until it abates and goes back into your chest where it belongs.

It is so rarely that we take the time to just stop. Stop and listen, look, and appreciate what is going on around us.  By becoming fully attuned to what is going on with your body and around you in the present moment you can open up a new appreciation for the world. It is such a simple solution to such a complicated problem, but I promise that by spending even a few moments in each day in this mindful state you will see improvement in your everyday life.


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