Attention is one of the most valuable resources we have as human beings. Your attention is like a laser - when you concentrate the light, you can even cut through metal.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the fullness of the present moment, with curiosity, non-judgment, and intention.
You may think that your mind is not wired for mindfulness because of the overwhelming things you've been through or the stressful things you're anticipating in your life, but with gentleness you can build your own mindfulness practice to help you cut through the hard things you're facing.
Keep reading if you still need some convincing about why mindfulness is good for you (I'll give you five reasons from what I've learned).
1) It Can Increase Your Contentment
Part of our nature as human beings is to focus on what we don't have in order to get what we need to survive and thrive. We buy food if we notice the fridge is empty. We research a question if we're lacking answers. We let someone know if we're missing them.
One of the principles of mindfulness is to have an attitude of acceptance. Of course, there are things we simply cannot accept, like abuse or crime. However, we can make our peace with the way things are when they pose no harm to us.
When we access acceptance, we can access contentment.
The next time you're waiting in a long line for something you want, rather than wishing for things to go faster, try to accept the fact that we need to wait for good things to come. When the good thing finally arrives you'll definitely be content, but in the meantime focus on the gift of the present.
2) It Can Lower Your Pain
There has been a lot of clinical research on the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness might sound like a new popular term, but the essence of it has been around for many centuries.
Research has found that mindfulness can lower pain, whether it be emotional (depression, anxiety) or physical (high blood pressure, chronic pain).
Meditation is very closely related to mindfulness because it's also about focusing your attention, but with meditation there's usually a single point of reference like your breathing or an uplifting idea. You're likely to engage in both mindfulness and meditation when you start to take one or the other into your practice, so these terms can be used interchangeably sometimes.
There's preliminary research suggesting that meditation can help with the overwhelming flare ups of fibromyalgia and asthma, so there's no question about how worthwhile this practice is.
3) It Can Help You to Be More Kind
A rather popular type of meditation is called loving-kindness meditation.
The first step in all mindfulness practices is to find some level of comfort and calm that allows you to pay attention.
With loving-kindness meditation, you wish kindness to yourself, "May you be happy and at ease. May you be well in mind, body, and spirit." Then you may extend these kind wishes to someone that you care about or has cared about you. Finally, if you're up for the challenge, you may wish kindness to a stranger, someone you rarely talk with, or someone that had been unkind.
4) It Is Always Accessible
The great thing about mindfulness is that you can practice it whenever, wherever, and however you want! You don't have to spend your money on this. The only thing you need to invest is a bit of your attention.
Even while reading this, you can practice mindfulness. Let me show you.
Take a moment to just notice the contact of your device to your skin.
Notice your posture, is it relaxed or tense? Whatever it is, notice it without judgment.
Bring your attention to your unrelenting breath. Is it shallow or deep? Notice the cool air going through your nose, and the warm air going out.
Whatever you're feeling, choose to accept it with curiosity and with no judgment. Set the intention to be fully present in this moment.
Carry on with this simple mental guideline throughout your day. You're already practicing mindfulness
5) It Lets You Be
Another great principle of mindfulness is that of non-striving, of being a human being rather than a human doing.
So often do we get caught up in the doing parts of life, to the point where we think our worth is tied to what we do rather than who we are.
I love reading the book of Psalms because it uses poetry to open a window into what it means to be human in relation to God.
The Psalmist in Chapter 139 Verses 13-14 says:
“for it was You who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise You because I have been fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Have you ever just marveled at the human mind and body and the complexity of the world? If you have lost your sense of wonder for life, mindfulness can help to bring it back.
In just being alive and carrying your beautifully and mysteriously created self, you may find your worth.
Now that you know about mindfulness, you're invited to practice it in a way that works for you.
I encourage you to be mindful with something you already do everyday, bring your full attention to it, and give grace to yourself when you have to refocus because your mind wandered.
Will you accept this invitation?
Wishing you the best in your journey of discovery,