What Is Mindfulness & Why Does It Matter?

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the importance of mindfulness

By Stephanie Catalano

It’s not uncommon for people to equate Mindfulness to be a practice Millennials live by. It’s true Millennials are known to live moment to moment, but Mindfulness is for all.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has been defined in many ways, but in essence it is a psychological process of bringing one’s awareness to experiences occurring in the present moment, without passing judgment. It is to focus conscious attention on what is happening right here, right now. To be Mindful is to be aware of what’s taking place, both internally and externally, and to allow the experience to be what it is without becoming attached or consumed by thoughts, feelings, responses, and even perceptions. This includes body awareness, breathing, posture, and relaxation.

Most people have heard of Mindfulness and maybe even attempted to live by it because they heard it can help with anxiety and stress. However, people live in an extremely fast-paced world, and sometimes, they forget to check in with themselves. It is easy for people to dwell on the past and/or worry about the future. If they make Mindfulness a value, it is easier for them to return their attention to the present moment, which is the only real time that exists.

Mindfulness teaches people to show up to every moment of their life with a sense of curiosity, imagination, openness, and wonder. It is like living with a mind of a child. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, there are seven attitudes of Mindfulness, 1) No judgment, 2) Non-striving, 3) Acceptance, 4) Letting go, 5) Beginner’s mind, 6) Patience, and 7) Trust. This practice teaches people how to experience and enjoy life as it’s happening, rather than waiting for the “right moment” or watching life pass them by.

People like to be in control because it gives a sense of safety and security. It’s really interesting how most people try to control everything that is external of them such as the reactions and responses of others and even trying to plan exactly how the day is going to go. This typically leads to anxiety, stress, worry, and many other unpleasant feelings that interrupts the present moment. By practicing Mindfulness, it allows people to become aware of where they are placing their attention and re-focus when needed.

The Importance of Mindfulness and How It Can Help

Life isn’t meant to be experienced in the past or the future. It is meant to be experienced and enjoyed in the present moment. Mindfulness is important because it teaches people how to do just that – live in the present moment.  Research shows that Mindfulness can help with the following:

  • Stress reduction
  • Increases focus
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Increases immune functioning
  • Enhances mental health
  • Improves relationships
  • More cognitive flexibility
  • Allows for compassion towards self and others
  • Increases emotional regulation and self-control

When it comes to the way a person thinks and feels, being Mindful of their emotions, can help them cultivate a move positive mindset and work towards being a ‘better’ or ‘happier’ person. The more a person practices Mindfulness, the more it will help them let go of living in the space of “what should have been” and live for what is happening in the here and now.

This practice can be especially helpful for those in the middle and later years of life who may be facing life challenges such as body aches, the loss of loved ones, the decline of their physical and mental health, the loss of their identity due to retirement and even the “empty nest syndrome.” Mindfulness can also help deal with unexpected financial burdens and the fear of possible health concerns.

Mindfulness is helpful because it helps manage any uncomfortable emotions, they may face due to life events and it teaches them how to accept what’s beyond their control and let go. Mindfulness doesn’t mean they will never experience anger, anxiety, disappointment, depression, frustration, or grief and loss. It does mean pausing before reacting to stressful situations and offers an opportunity to see people, places, things, and events from a place of openness, understanding, empathy, kindness, and compassion.

In the stressful chaos of modern life, hard times, and uncertainty, can Mindfulness help? Yes – it can. It takes time, practice, patience, and self-kindness, but it is possible. They can teach themselves to be Mindful of each day, each event, each challenge, each breath.

Meet Stephanie

Stephanie Catalano is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Personal Development Author, and Life Coach with experience in the fields of Child Welfare, Mental Health, and Substance Use with three published books to date. Stephanie’s mission is to empower individuals as they work towards reaching their highest potential.

To learn more about Stephanie, visit www.themindfulliving.com and follow her on Emenator @mindfulliving, Instagram @mindfulliving.now, and Facebook @mindfulliving for daily inspiration, Mindful skills, tips, and more. Find Mindful Makeover Workbook and Guide on Amazon and check out The Mindful Makeover Podcast available on iTunes and Spotify.

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