The best way to understand mindfulness and how it can be helpful is to practice it – especially with the guidance of an experienced teacher. But, we will do our best to explain it simply and conceptually here.
Mindfulness is a way of living, developed through a variety of practices, that helps us bring kind and non-judgmental attention to moment by moment experience, giving us the choice to respond in ways that support health and wellbeing for ourselves and our communities. – Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness
When we are living on autopilot, largely unaware of our thoughts, feelings, and urges, we tend to make knee-jerk reactions, sometimes out of strong emotions, that aren’t always very helpful to ourselves or for those around us. When we have learned to be mindful, we are more aware of our habits and patterns as well as more objectively observant of the world around us. This allows us to make better decisions.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” ─ Mindfulness.org
Here is a 3-minute video that might help called Mindfulness is a Superpower:
So, what’s in it for me? Research indicates mindfulness practice is correlated with:
- Decreased stress, anxiety
- Increased sense of wellbeing
- Improvements in pain management
- Improved working memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, and creativity
- Improved emotional intelligence, regulation & resilience (less reactivity, shorter recovery times)
- Increased empathy and compassion (kinder to self and others)
- Enhanced relationship satisfaction
- Improvements in measures of health
- Reductions in relapse of depression and addictions
Mindfulness is the compassionate and curious observation of and investigation into present moment experience – an innate skill we can cultivate for discerning immediate experience from elaborations – reflecting on what is directly felt, heard, seen, smelled, tasted, and/or touched and the thoughts, emotions and urges that come along with these experiences. This discerning awareness leads to insight, allowing us to choose from a place of wisdom. – Tracy Ochester
What’s in it for my community? When more of us are practicing mindfulness, we develop a critical mass of people with the foundational skills needed for living a life of vitality and wellbeing. Collectively, this may lead to:
- Decreased burnout and improved empathy among the people who serve you and your family, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, public safety personnel and first responders, politicians, mental health professionals, etc.
- Less harmful behavior happening in the workplace, your neighborhoods, and in your children’s schools, such as aggression, violence, & addictions
- More socially beneficial behavior such as kindness, compassion and helping
- Strengthened relationships and a better understanding of the importance of our interconnectedness – realizing that everything we do impacts others and vice versa
- Taking better care of the environment and protecting the ecosystem upon which we all depend
Mindfulness training is ’transformational education’, …understood as educating the whole person by integrating the inner and the outer life, by actualizing individual and global awakening, and by participating in compassionate communities. – Mark Nepo