Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present to whatever you are experiencing in the here and now. It involves a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and environment.
A central component of mindfulness is acceptance. You pay full attention to your current experience non-judgmentally—without criticism, without labeling anything as “good” or “bad,” and without wishing that things were any different than they are right now.
Learning Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation takes practice. Although it is a simple technique, it’s not always easy to perform—at least not at first.
If you tried for the next three minutes to pay attention only to your breath, focusing on the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation, you might be surprised. You might find yourself worrying about an upcoming event, brooding over a past event, planning tomorrow’s itinerary, or revisiting yesterday’s conversation with a family member. In short, you’d find yourself anywhere but in the here and now.
That means mindfulness takes training, followed up by daily practice. The time commitment in learning mindfulness meditation, however, is not “lost” time out of your day. On the contrary, the time you spend in mindfulness practice is more than compensated for by the resultant streamlining of your day. Mindfulness clears the mind, settles the emotions, and focuses attention dramatically.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Literally thousands of research studies have been performed to examine the process and benefits of mindfulness. The science is clear: mindfulness practice offers profound benefits on multiple fronts—physical, psychological, and interpersonal. Here are some of the benefits that have been documented:
- Overall health: Strengthens the immune system and shortens illness recovery time.
- Stress: Reduces stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.
- Emotion regulation: Reduces anxiety, depression, and anger.
- Interpersonal relations: Increases empathy and compassion.
- Work output: Improves concentration, focus, and efficiency.
- Communication skills: Enhances calmness and clarity in communication.
- Decision-making: Improves long-term goal clarity and decisiveness.
- Cognitive ability: Improves mental acuity and creativity.
These are only a few of the benefits of mindfulness practice, but the common thread among all of these may be the ability of mindfulness to create a spacious, restful place in the mind from which our best selves can spring forth, freed from the usual mental clutter that weighs us down and often trips us up.
Try Mindfulness Meditation Now
To get a feel for mindfulness practice, check out the guided meditations on the Audio page. These meditations gently guide you through exercises in which you practice focusing your attention on experiences such as your breath or your bodily sensations. The meditations help lay a foundation for a robust and fruitful mindfulness practice.