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Mindfulness

‘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.

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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 never tried mindfulness technique and I've never heard about it before. But I try to use on of them to be more calmer. Work can be so fast-paced that you are tempted to do things without really thinking about them, automatically. More or must be aware of mindlessly threat and do something about it.

I am happy to find out this word because sometimes, I practice some mindful techniques in order to stay focus when attending scientific conferences or when reading a book. And let me confirm that theses techniques are powerful and helpful. So as to practice mindfulness, my lovely technique is trying to focus on the plaisir the lecturer have to talk about his work, it is easy to detect theses feelings by following carefully the tune of his voice and the happiness in his face; this really help you to gather a lot of knowledge about his work.

Mindfulness maybe the right answer to the big problem these days: anxiety. All of us, are always in a rush, technology and especially mobile phones don't help us to concentrate. Everything I do, I find that my mind is everywhere - lost in the future, or remembering the past. I think this creates anxiety, however practising mindfulness I think that in each moment consciously we can take a break and a deep breath. Then we should notice our anxiety levels going down.

I always meditate about ten minutes per day to be mindful.

No, I have never try any mindfulness technique, but it's true, I'm reading or listening something and while I'm thinking in what is going to happen next, what is the next assignment or activity and not enjoy or take the time to live what I'm doing at the moment, so it's a good advice be step by step and take some time to relaxing.

I think mindfulness is a "laical" variation of the meditation, which is an experience of many religions. For this very reason it's no matter of adopting some techniques only, but it aims to pursue a way of life very different from
one that we usually follow.

Very interesting and useful. Thank you very much indeed.

i think i'm a mindful person cause i pay attention for what happening around me, i can listen carfully to someone speaking, and i can do what i planning for. but sometimes i feel like i'm tired i can't move on due to a lot of stress and depression, so yes you are right i need to watch myself again and practice this techniques to be better than before so thank you guys so much, i really i appreciate that.

Yes, I really need to do this thing.
Everyday , I have my meals very fast because there are so many things to do in my mind after my meals. And I didn't want to give much time for eating before. Now I realized it is not good for your mind and also health. We should know and practice mindfulness. Thanks for reminding us.

I used to practice mindfulness and I was somewhat successful. But unfortunately, now I can rarely do it.
This is the best way to increase your energy.

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