Since we already discussed the power of breathing in the prior blog post, let’s build on this and talk about the POWER of mindfulness!
What is mindfulness? Webster defines mindfulness in 2 ways. 1) The state of being mindful… Great that was a big help! and 2) “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also : such a state of awareness.” I am going to take this one further and say not only of one’s or your thoughts and emotions but also considering others thoughts and emotions.
I like to think of mindfulness as the difference between a reaction and a response. The difference may seem small and simple, however it is truly monumental! The difference is a space, a pause, a BREATH, to be mindful and consider the other persons situation and why they may be acting in such a manner.
Reactions are great when you put your hand on a hot surface or step on glass barefoot, but in the context of interpersonal relationships and others around us, a reaction can be dangerous, create stress, anger and be detrimental ones health or a relationship with a friend or loved one.
Lets put these concepts into a scenario most people will come across on a daily basis. You are driving to work and a person cuts you off!
Your reaction… What an A-hole! you begin to get angry and agitated, flip them the bird, or even start to swear, you get to work and get short with a coworker, that energy spreads throughout aspects of your life. Reactions will only increase stress and be detrimental to your mood, attitude or even worse your health and loved ones. However, taking a breath and being mindful may result much differently.
Your response…(Deep Diaphragmatic Breath and with a beginners mind you ask yourself) Hey maybe they are rushing to a doctors appointment, an interview or to a family member in the hospital? You usually don’t get angry at an ambulance, fire truck or police officer flying down the road with their sirens blaring, you pull over to the side to let them pass and hope for the best. The difference here is awareness of the situation, we can not always be aware of what is going on in everyones lives, sometimes we aren’t even aware of whats truly going on in a loved ones life, but we can be mindful and nonjudgemental because an emergency may be the case. So we take a breath, carry on about your day normally, and you calmly pull up next to them at the stop light anyway.
Practicing mindfulness is EASY! and has INCREDIBLE benefits to your life, stress, anxiety and even pain! Other benefits reported in a review from the American Psychology Association by Davis and Hayes also include increased concentration, focus, mental clarity, empathy, compassion, emotional regulation, decreased reactivity and increased response flexibility.
PRACTICING (it’s a practice, you have to try a little bit) mindfulness is best paired with some form of meditation, or my favorite breathing meditation as discussed in the prior blog post. Intentionally attempting to be mindful throughout the day and some consistent breathing meditation is all it takes!
Here is my Challenge to you: Make a true attempt to be mindful. Start with one event, then for a day, then a week, a month, months etc. It will become part of who you are and you will greatly benefit from it. I truly believe that it can add years to ones life! So go out there, take a breath and give a response, not a reaction!
P.S. If this is something that interests you or you feel you may need in your life, I highly recommend the book Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, it comes in audiobook as well.
Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48(2), 198.