The origins of mindfulness and it’s benefits for our wellbeing
Mindfulness is a concept that has started to feature more prominently in our modern-day
narratives, especially as we try to navigate the stressful and high-pressure environments that
we so often find ourselves in. However, mindfulness is no modern invention, and has been
around for thousands of years – generally believed to have originated 2,500 years ago. The
practise has its roots in early Eastern religions, namely Hinduism and Buddhism, and over time
it has also gained a secular presence in Western science and philosophy.
Today, many people around the world utilise mindfulness as a valuable tool for maintaining a
healthier, more balanced, and more purpose driven life. In this blog post, we unpack the
concept of mindfulness by exploring in more detail what it is, how to incorporate it into our
daily lives, and the various benefits it holds for different areas of our wellbeing.
Mindfulness in a nutshell
If you are new to the concept of mindfulness or have only briefly heard of it in passing, here’s a
simple definition of what it entails:
Mindfulness is a state of awareness which you enter into by being fully present in the moment
and purposely paying attention to your experience and surroundings in a curious, nonjudgmental, and open-minded way.
Whilst many people consider mindfulness to be a practice or activity, it is more of an ongoing
quality that you integrate into your daily living and your overarching way of existing. That is
why you will often hear people talk about “living more mindfully.” Unlike formal meditation or
the practise of yoga and other related activities, mindfulness is not limited to a particular place
and time and can be applied throughout the day as you go about your routine.
Simply put, mindfulness requires you to redirect your focus to the present moment so that you
are able to fully appreciate and engage with your surroundings and/or the task at hand,
without allowing past or future worries to affect your current thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness in action
When we don’t live mindfully, our minds are more likely to be plagued by fleeting thoughts, worries,
and obsessions, which can in turn lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and an overall dissatisfaction
with life. We may even experience a mind-body disconnect, which can lead us to become estranged
from our true purpose and our most authentic self. Fortunately, mindfulness can easily be achieved
once we become aware of all the ways in which it can be implemented.
We can start by paying attention to every sight, smell, taste, sound, and texture that’s available to us
in our environment, and consciously express gratitude for the fact that our senses allow us to
experience all of these sensations. When things become overwhelming, we can bring our attention
to our breathing, and remind ourselves that some things are outside of our control – and that that’s
ok. We can pause to reflect on what we are grateful for and re-evaluate some of our thoughts or
worries. Instead of looking at ourselves, those around us, or events in our lives with judgement or
contempt, we can choose to be more empathic, accepting, and optimistic. We can even remind
ourselves to practice gratitude once a day for the things we have in life, both the big things and the
little things, and acknowledge our self-worth, progress, and achievements more readily.
The benefits of mindfulness for wellbeing
The cognitive and psychological benefits of mindfulness are plenty. Mindfulness allows you to clear
your mind and dim out a lot of the ‘noise’ that results from an overstimulated or overworked brain.
In today’s world, many of us find ourselves having to sift through an overwhelming amount of
information every day, and this can leave us feeling mentally fatigued.
By bringing yourself back to the present moment and grounding yourself within your immediate
surroundings, you give your mind a chance to relax and reset. This promotes mental clarity,
improves your ability to concentrate, increases mental flexibility, and helps you view situations and
problems more objectively. Living more mindfully can also help to significantly reduce the
occurrence of stress and anxiety, making one less prone to developing other serious mental health
issues such as burnout or depression.
Mindfulness is not just good for the mind, but also for the body. When we live more mindfully, we
are likely to lead more balanced and satisfied lives, which can help us deal better with external
stressors and adversity in our lives. This means that we will be less likely to experience prolonged,
high levels of stress, making us less likely to develop hypertension, bodily pains, or other physical
ailments linked to chronic stress. We are also less likely to experience anxiety and its accompanying
somatic symptoms such as heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, or body aches.
Furthermore, when we have greater mental clarity and a higher threshold for adversity, we are likely
to make more well-informed decisions under pressure and are therefore less likely to act out
impulsively or behave in ways that are potentially harmful to ourselves and others.
It is said that mindfulness improves one’s capacity for self-control, meaning that individuals who live
mindfully are more likely to base their actions on logical reasoning and moral consideration as
opposed to acting on impulse. Because higher levels of self-control tend to be viewed as admirable
in many social contexts, this can be greatly beneficial to a person’s social wellbeing and their
relationships with others. In addition, mindfulness also helps us maintain a healthy self-awareness,
which is essential for building healthy and meaningful relationship both with ourselves and with
Perhaps one of the most notable social benefits of living more mindfully is the fact that it heightens
our emotional intelligence and increases our ability to show kindness, compassion, and acceptance
towards other people. These are basic social skills that are incredibly valuable to us in every social
interaction we have with another human being, and we are more likely to build strong and positive
connections with others if we have developed these areas of our personalities.
Mindfulness is a wonderful tool that can be used during meditation and moments of silence, but it
doesn’t have to stop there. We can choose to use mindfulness every day as our compass for
navigating our complex, challenging, and often confusing world. It can help us to become more
resilient in the face of change and adversity, and more appreciative in the rare moments of victory
and beauty. So, let’s begin by taking a deep breath in…
…and a deep breath out.
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