The idea of mindfulness tends to bring a sense of skepticism to those who are unfamiliar with the practice. The concept is often coupled with visions of meditation and nonsensical chanting. With such an assumption, it’s easy to shrug it off as “new-age crap.”
The practice of mindfulness has begun to become a more popular topic for discussion, particularly since TIME Magazine’s February cover story.
It’s safe that say that universally, people seek happiness. Though many may not subscribe to the idea, our society is very much in with thinking that our possessions and reputations are essential in the path to contentment.
These things, however, don’t really have any meaning beyond their physical values. Though they may help us to go further in the world, it is to a superficial degree.
That’s not to say that possessions and reputations preclude a person from being truly successful or happy. It cannot be denied that if you have money and the right connections, it is likely easier to move up in your occupation or hobby.
Even those who are lost can be successful. But, this is dependent on how you measure success.
Mindfulness is a state of increased awareness of the present and the self. It is the elimination of external distractions and experience of life as it is in front of you. Though derived from Buddhism, the practice doesn’t need to be spiritual.
When I call it a “practice,” it’s easy to assume that there are exercises involved. Certainly there are different activities you can do to increase your levels of mindfulness, but many of these err on the side of actual meditation, which is a very valid but unnecessary step, especially if you tend to shy away from spirituality.
To those who are turned off by the idea of sitting silently for 10 minutes, simply concentrating on present circumstances can yield mindfulness.
In a pinch, this go-to concentration center can be your breath or it can involve focusing on one thing at a time. The goal is to reach a state in which you allow your thoughts and feelings to flow without judgment.
I find that shutting off my phone or leaving it in the next room is a simple way to increase my personal awareness. The thing to keep in mind is that how you come to be mindful is different for every person. Though I wish I could, I can’t advise how to do this — you to discover it. The journey to being mindful is a personal, but ultimately, rewarding one.
Three reasons why mindfulness is a tool for success:
1. It encourages self-awareness. As you listen to your own thoughts and feelings without judgment, your personal needs become obvious. A better sense of self develops, allowing you to more easily identify and work with your strengths and your weaknesses.
2. It aids clarity in times of stress. The mind naturally wanders 50 percent of the time. When there is a lot on your plate, it is easy to change focus between each task. When we designate all of our attention to one thing at a time, we inevitably become more productive.
3. It can help to ease suffering. Obstacles, both physical and emotional, cannot always be avoided. When being mindful, we can accept this pain rather than complain or obsess about it. If we let go of our sadness in hard times and see these times as merely facets of life, we stop dwelling on what is wrong and start focusing on what we can do to make things right.