What is Mindfulness?

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 09/04/2017 - 09:31

Mindfulness has been a buzzword lately. The term gained much popularity in the field of medicine, behavioral and social sciences, and education in the last decade for its many benefits in enhancing physical and mental well-being.

                          So, what is this hype about mindfulness? And why should we incorporate it into our daily lives?

The term Mindfulness originated from ancient Buddhist traditions and found its way to the Western world in the early 1950’s. Mindfulness is simply waking up to one’s surroundings and living in harmony with what arises in our day-to-day life.

A more modern definition of mindfulness states, “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and without judgments” (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

  • paying attention ~ putting one’s attention to a task, person, situation, etc.
  • on purpose ~ setting an intention around the task
  • non-judgmentally ~ with a particular attitude

These are the three essential components of practicing mindfulness ~ attention, intention, and attitude. But, why should we practice these?

Behavioral scientists have noted that practicing mindfulness decreases stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhances pre-frontal functioning. More importantly, it increases awareness, attention and attunement to the surroundings, and makes individuals less likely to react negatively, both internally and externally. A lesser known benefit is that individuals practicing mindfulness regularly tend to become more compassionate and non-judgmental towards themselves and others over time.

Try it for yourself. This remarkably simple exercise trains your awareness and attention and is refreshing and relaxing at the same time.

  1. Choose your Breathing Anchor (Duration 5-10 minutes)
    • Sit with your back straight and your body relaxed, resting your hands gently on your knees, and close your eyes. Notice what it feels like to breathe in and out.
    • Now put one finger under your nose and feel your breath going in and out. Can you feel it?
    • Next, place your hand on your chest, over your heart. Can you feel your hand moving when you breathe?
    • Now place your hand on your belly and feel the movement of your breath.
    • Notice where you feel the movement of your breath most easily. Is it beneath your nose, at your chest, or your belly?
    • Whichever place you choose, that will be your anchor. Now lightly rest your attention on your anchor and see if you can keep your body relaxed at the same time as you breathe in and out. Simply practice this for 2-5 minutes, returning to your breath anchor whenever you attention wanders.

                                                                                                                                                             (Adapted from Mindful Games by Susan Kaiser Greenland)

Next time you feel stressed, anxious, or out of your element, consider trying this mindfulness strategy as a brain break.





Mansi Brat's picture
Mansi Brat
Mansi is a psychotherapist at Still Waters Counseling. She earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lindenwood University, MO. She also earned her doctoral degree in Counselor Education from the University of Toledo, OH with an emphasis in Mindfulness Meditation. Mansi values an integrative and strength-based counseling approach. She believes in holistic wellness that embodies the person as a “whole” – the physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, occupational, social, and environmental aspects of healing. Her philosophy resides on the foundational elements of instilling hope through creative transformation and sound intentionality. Incorporating these in unison, Mansi’s aim is to provide a sound space of comfort, warmth and trust that enables individual’s to find their purpose and meaning in life. Mansi is also a certified yoga instructor. Her journey began back in 2010 when she started exploring holistic forms of healing and wellness. As this exploration developed, she noticed subtle changes in her thoughts and perception of what it means to be well. More so, she developed a deep connection with her innermost self. For her, yoga is creating a space of awareness. It is in this awareness that the mind ceases to control all external worries and anxieties. Through her classes, she aims to teach her students the beauty of being present to the ‘now’. I invite you to experience a journey beyond yourself, uncovering boundless possibilities to rediscover your eternal self. Welcome aboard!