Importance of MindfulnessUpdated:
Our Mindfulness Series
‘Importance of Mindfulness‘ is the second article in our mindful series.
We recommend you read our Mindfulness series systematically to introduce and deepen your understanding and practise of Mindfulness, beginning with our first article – ‘What is Mindfulness‘.
The present moment is all there is!
Our entire life unfolds in the present moment. In fact, every experience, sensation, emotion or thought we have, occurs only in the now.
When we think about the future or recall past events, we do so now. Even events that occurred in the past, took place in a former ‘Now’ and any future event will arise as another ‘Now’.
It could therefore be argued that the present moment is the most precious thing in existence – why? Because it is the only thing.
Mindfulness allows you to experience the ‘Now’
Mindfulness is the skill that allows us to get in touch with the present moment and fully experience life (rather than being continually lost in thought).
The energy of mindfulness allows us to deeply enjoy the many wonders of everyday life and the present moment. Without mindfulness, we would normally overlook these wonders or perhaps view them as an obstacle, or, means to an end.
When we take a mindful breath, or a mindful step, listen to someone mindfully or wash a dish mindfully these simple actions can be deeply enjoyable, satisfying and relaxing, by themselves. We no longer need to be somewhere else (for example, at home, on the couch or having a cup of tea) to be relaxed and at peace, we are at peace now, enjoying the present moment and each simple action.
By having our full attention in the present moment, we are also more receptive to what is happening, able to remember and learn and can respond more appropriately to the needs of the now. Anything done in this way, brings a higher quality to it, which increases your effectiveness.
Lost in thought – Missing life
Yet many people live their lives constantly thinking about the future, or replaying the past. They subsequently miss out on the only thing there ever is – the present moment.
The present moment is also inevitable. It has already unfolded, whether for better or worse. Learning to focus your attention on the present moment allows you to experience life as it is and stops our unnecessary judgements, complaints or unhappy stories we tell ourselves (and others) about how terrible we may ‘think’ our life is.
Even if our circumstances are undesirable (for example if we’re stuck in the mud) – mindfulness allows us to accept where we are (because it’s already happened) and clearly see what is needed. Then, we may choose to take effective action to get out of the mud whilst maintaining a peaceful, non-reactive inner state.
If instead, we become ‘lost in thought’ and start labelling or judging our situation as ‘bad’, complaining or criticising we waste unnecessary energy on our negative thoughts. This reduces our ability to focus on solving the problem and in the process creates unnecessary suffering and unhappiness.
Spiritual traditions have known these benefits of mindfulness for millennia, but now science is backing it up.
One study, created an app (called ‘Track your happiness’). The app asked 15000 people to report their happiness level at random times. It also asked whether they were thinking pleasant thoughts, unpleasant thoughts, neutral thoughts or was their attention immersed in what they were doing.
The app gathered 650,000 pieces of data from a diverse population and demonstrated that people were indeed, happiest when their attention was immersed in what they were doing (not thinking pleasant thoughts). This was even the case if people were doing something they would normally label as bad, such as being stuck in traffic (i.e. day dreaming about your upcoming holiday or replaying a wonderful recent event makes you less happy than being ‘mindful’ in traffic).
The take home message, a wandering mind (i.e. default mode – lost in thought) is an unhappy mind.
View the relevant Ted Talk here:
Learn More About Mindfulness
Our mindfulness articles have been written as a progressive series to teach and deepen your Mindfulness practise.
View the next article in our series:
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