Mindfulness is the ability to intentionally focus your attention in the present moment, with curiosity and interest.
When you do this, you can become more aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as they are happening, without being swept away by them.
Mindfulness training is brain training. By practicing, you begin to notice when your mind has wandered, you can let go of distractions more easily, and you can refocus on what is important in the moment. In short, you become more mentally and emotionally fit.
Some people describe mindfulness as truly living life instead of operating on autopilot, worrying about the future, or reliving the past. When we are mindful, we are aware and clear about what is happening now. We can make better choices today, which increases the likelihood of a happier tomorrow.
Most of us experience some level of stress, usually in the form of the most common negative emotions like frustration, worry or anger.
Mindfulness doesn’t change what happens to us; it changes the way we choose to react to it.
Practicing Mindfulness reduces stress, anxiety and negative reactivity. It increases cognitive control, positive mood, health, creativity and productivity.
Neuroscience shows regular mindfulness practice can increase the size of brain areas associated with learning and memory and shrink those linked to stress and anxiety.
Practicing Mindfulness is like practicing a musical instrument or any other skill — the more you practice, the better you get.
You practice to develop your attention, concentration and ability to be present without being judgmental. You turn your attention to your body, thoughts and emotions, welcoming whatever you find. It’s like discovering what’s already here.
The purpose of practicing mindfulness isn’t to perfect it. The purpose is to be more present to what’s happening here and now… less lost in thought, unfocused and distracted.
It takes some guidance to learn how to do this… live classes, where you can participate in a community with experienced teachers and ask questions, is the most effective way to practice.
With practice you improve. And it gets easier. The more proficient you are, the more present you are and the more you see situations clearly and control you have over your reactions.