WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
In the simplest of terms, mindfulness is moment to moment awareness. To pay attention to what is happening around us and inside of us without any judgement. Mindfulness is not about blocking our thoughts or obtaining a blank state of mind. Instead, it is about acknowledging our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations as they arise in our awareness. When we become the conscious observer we can fully engage with the present moment. It is the transition from a state of doing into a state of being.
One way to achieve mindfulness is by incorporating mindful activities in our daily lives such as mindful walking, eating, driving, and showering. Mindful activities are a great way to bring mindfulness to mundane tasks that are already a part of our daily routine. For example, participants of the MBSR program learn mindful eating by experiencing a raisin with all of their senses as if for the first time. After adopting mindful eating habits many of the participants experienced weight loss and a new appreciation for food. This form of mindfulness is referred to as informal mindfulness.
The second way to experience mindfulness is by practicing meditation, guided or self-guided. Meditation is when we set aside a designated time to train our awareness in a group or by ourselves. It is the intentional self-regulation of our awareness. There are many different types of mediation each with its own unique benefits. For example, the body scan teaches us how to gently lean into discomfort as we switch into sensory mode. This form of mindfulness is referred to as formal mindfulness.