‘Mindfulness’ is a word we hear a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean? Find out what it is, what the benefits of mindfulness are and how you can start to practise it.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

Have you ever driven somewhere and realised when you arrived that you couldn’t really remember anything about the journey? Or have you ever eaten a whole packet of biscuits when you were planning to only have one? Or have you stayed up much later than you planned, or even all night, watching ‘just one more’ episode of a TV series? All of these are examples of mindlessness. When we live this way, we are not fully awake and not fully living our lives.

What exactly is mindfulness?

When we are mindful, we are more conscious of our thoughts, our actions and what is happening around us. We might notice a beautiful sunset or really listen carefully to what a friend is saying, rather than planning what we’re going to say next. We are also more aware of our own feelings and our thoughts. Jon Kabat Zinn, who has done a lot to make mindfulness popular, says mindfulness is: ‘Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and without judging.’

So we are consciously deciding what to pay attention to, we are not worrying about the past or planning for the future and we are not trying to control or stop our thoughts or feelings – we’re just noticing them.

Why is mindfulness so popular now?

For most people life is getting busier and busier. Technology means that we always have something to do and there isn’t much opportunity to just ‘be’. People are often doing two or three things at the same time: texting while watching TV, or even looking at their phone while walking along the pavement. People are working longer hours and bringing work home. All this can make us stressed, and mindfulness can be a way of reducing this stress.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Research shows that mindfulness reduces stress and depression. It can help you to concentrate, have a better memory and to think more clearly. It can also help people to manage pain better and to improve their sleep, and it can even help you lose weight because you won’t eat that whole packet of biscuits without thinking!

How to become more mindful

Mindfulness Day is celebrated on 12 September, so maybe that would be a good day to try a few mindfulness techniques and see if they make a difference. But, of course, you can try these on any day of the year.

A very simple technique that you could try right now is to close your eyes for a couple of minutes and count how many sounds you can hear. This will help to focus you on what is happening right now.

Another technique is to focus on a piece of food, typically a raisin. Instead of eating it without thinking, slow down. Look carefully at it and notice how it feels in your fingers. Smell it. Then put it on your tongue and taste it. Only then start to eat it slowly, noticing how it feels and how it tastes.

Both of these techniques force you to slow down and focus on the present moment, and there are plenty of other ideas you can find online if you want to try mindfulness for yourself. 

Discussion

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Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

I have been trying some mindfulness techniques. I feft better when i was sick

Mindfulness is the act of being aware and conscious of what's happening around you. As refered to in the text, being mindful can have a plethora of positive aspects to one's life, such as reducing stress and depression, managing pain, imroving memory's capacity and many more.
Personally, I've tried the technique metioned in the article that says " Close your eyes for a couple of minutes and count how many sounds around you ". Frankly, this is my first time doing this experience and it was sort of weird. I remember I stood in the middle of the house, closed my eyes and counted how many sounds I was hearing. There were five sounds I recall and the feeling after opening my eyes was stress relieving. I was calm after the experience which helped me clear my mind and my thoughts. So, I will be doing these kinds of techniques in the futur and I recommend it to people who suffer from stress and this will assist them to focus more on the present moment and be conscious of what's happening around.

Hi everyone. Yes, i have tried to focus on the sounds sorround me and this is really an awakwning, even though it does not include a deep level of mindful

Hi everyone. The techniques for me for example it is just walking long distance in an other parks and raiding by bicycle. Helps a lot.

Hello everubody. It is very beautyful article.

We must value evry momemnt of the day.

a great article.

Interesting text!
I know about mindfulness a lot and do some meditation every day. I get five minutes every morning and pay attention to my breath.
It is so helpful thing!

hi everyone , this topic is very interesting , i enjoy a lot reading this article.

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