The concept of mindfulness comes to us from the Eastern cultures, and particularly from Buddhism — concepts that are over 2,500 years old. Its simple objective is to take you into a dynamic focus and lead you to fully paying attention. You pay attention to what is going on around you, to which emotions you are feeling, to how and what you are saying to others, to how and what you are thinking silently within your own mind, to how you are acting and behaving out in the world either alone or amongst others.
See how this ties into developing your EQ? It’s great!
In our Western societies, mindfulness courses and classes have mushroomed only over the past four decades or so. Mindfulness is now a mainstream concept and practice in Europe and North America. In fact, it’s not far off track to say that many Westerners eased into full meditation practice through the doorway of mindfulness practice.
The Western medical and mental health communities, at the same time, came to adapt Eastern mindfulness practices and approaches to their own needs; They have indeed been shown over time to help patients who have mental and emotional health[…]”
“Western psychology and psychiatry have also devised some more “Westerner-friendly” ways of learning and practicing mindfulness.; Medical professionals have assisted their patients in becoming more mindful, and seen it notably help reduce symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, among others.
Versions of mindfulness and EQ that we see in these pages have also been extremely useful in diminishing or fully eliminating emotional trauma. Trauma from wartime experiences, from childhood or adult physical abuse or violence result in negative, protective feelings moving into place in our psyche. Whether it manifests as recurring nightmares or sleepless nights in fear of terrible nightmares, a strong anxiety around certain personality types, or a panicky retreat from society altogether – such strong feelings and emotions associated with trauma can be released through mindfulness practice. Knowing how to let go of the feelings helps diminish the power of the related memory as well. Military personnel returning from war zones and benefiting from a mindful release of traumatic feelings have gone so far as to state, “I finally got my life back”.”
“Determination. Awareness. Attention.
These are three key words that help you understand what mindfulness is.
Mindfulness means deliberately paying attention. Intentionally focusing. Nonjudgmentally observing life and living as it occurs around you. Being aware of your surroundings through all your senses.
If you are not paying attention, you don’t know whether you are missing out on something that matters to you! You can only decide what matters to you by giving attention to everything, and then prioritizing.
Mindfulness is a useful state from which to observe what’s going on within self, within other people, and out in the world at large. You pay attention to:
- What is going on around you.
- Which emotions you are experiencing.
- How you are talking to people and what you are saying.
- How people are talking to you and what they are saying.
- Body language – yours and others’.
- What others are doing and what they need.
- How and what you are thinking.
- How, how much and what you eat and drink and take into the body.
- Nature – sounds, colors and movement.
- And much more!
In other words, mindfulness is a dynamic state of awareness. It is a lively, conscious way of registering and processing information.
“This awareness of what is going on from moment to moment occurs without any judgement on your part.
We have all noticed young children engrossed in a given task. Nothing can pull their attention from it. They are creating some form of art, or building something, or they’re lost in a beloved story that they know by heart. We as adults can go into “the zone”, too! We are similarly experiencing a mindful absorption in the activity we are performing: running a long distance, reading an engrossing novel, lost in kneading the bread dough. Nearly no interference, noise or interruption seems to be able to break our focus. As the saying goes, “wild horses couldn’t pull us away.”
Millennia-old religious and spiritual practices have used some type of mindfulness technique from their very beginnings. Rites often blended them into practices. Prayer, singing hymns or chanting are nothing more than means of focusing – being mindful – on the spiritual energy and connection with the divine. Meditation (and mindfulness is part of achieving that quiet mind) is a spiritual aspect of many religions, including the Baha’i faith, Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. By practicing mindfulness as we present it here, you are joining centuries of practitioners.
“That being said, sustained mindfulness is a tall order for most people! It means you have to pause and pay attention to absolutely everything going on around you and within you. That’s a lot to ask of anyone caught in the hustle-bustle of modern life. It’s a lot to ask as we are traveling, running businesses and earning a living, raising families, managing our homes.
Being mindful is difficult for the busy person that you are, granted. Especially with our last two or three decades of increasing solicitation by technology, media and the devices we all carry around to communicate, it’s hard to let go of that (apparent) connection and just observe attentively with our five senses for a while. We just don’t like to stop! But stop is exactly what we must do if we are to practice mindfulness and reap the benefits of doing so.
Becoming mindful means that most of us have to learn brand-new habits. Anyone can develop a more mindful state of being. Indeed, throughout the centuries, a number of specific activities have helped humans become fully aware and stay in the moment: Yoga, many martial arts such as Aikido, Chi Gong or Tai Chi, and meditation are some of the ancient ways we have moved ourselves into mindfulness. The ancients who lived with attention and determination were able to move into deeper, more sustained and long-term mindful states, as they quieted the noise of the ordinary mind and observed the world from a more peaceful state (7).
15th century poet Kabir said, “Wherever you are, that is the entry point.”
That is an important comment to keep in mind, because the first-time practitioner of mindfulness (and meditation as a whole) will get frustrated by wondering where to start.”
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