What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has become a pop-culture term applied to dozens of different activities ranging from eating to meditating, but what is it? Perhaps you’ve just heard of it referred to as, “being present,” without any further explanation. My favorite definition of mindfulness is simply the practice of paying attention. Practice is a key term here because learning to pay attention and cultivate self-awareness requires daily effort if it’s to become your natural way of thinking. Let’s explore some ways to apply mindfulness practices.
Learning to mentally recognize and state the gifts in your life can help rewire your brain to focus on positive aspects in your day rather than negative ones. Start small and try to think of one thing daily that you are grateful to have in your life. Once you have something in mind either write it down or say aloud the specific ways in which you appreciate it. For example, you might recognize that you are having a good hair day and write down that you feel more confident when you’ve had time to style your hair. Whenever you catch yourself repeating a negative thought in your head, attempt to replace it with positive thinking.
Mindfulness is often referred to as, “being present.” Meditating, or training one’s mind to be present, is the process of trying to pay attention to your senses instead of focusing on your thoughts. Everyone’s minds naturally provide distracting thoughts, such as thinking about housework while driving home. By learning to accept and dismiss these thoughts, you can decrease stress by learning to focus on the current moment and reducing the amount of time you spend worrying out about the future or the past.
The regulation of the self is learning to nurture positive and helpful thought processes while starving negative thought processes. This definition is like being present in that it requires you to learn to be self-aware of your thoughts. Self-regulation takes it an extra step by actively regulate your mental focus and attitude on being open, accepting, and curious about any given situation.
Three Ways to Say the Same Thing
All these definitions of mindfulness ultimately state the same goals:
How you’ve learned to think about yourself is a habit developed over the course of your life. It won’t change in a day, but with effort and patience you can learn to change the way you see the world.
About The Author Michael Cole
Michael is a Registered Dietitian that works with others to help them form a healthier and happier relationship with food and themselves. For Michael, nutritious meals and snacks are an important part of the recovery process, providing the nutrients needed to heal and balance the mind and body. He believes that the best meal, is the one that is shared with friends and family.