What is Mindfulness? Simple Explanation + Benefits [Meaning]
What is mindfulness and what is it not? Here you will find a ‘simplified wikipedia explanation’ of mindfulness. This gives you a clear picture of what mindfulness is and you may want to apply it immediately. Read along…
What is Mindfulness? The meaning / explanation …
If you could put it in one word, you could say: Mindfulness is attention training, or living with attention. It’s about having an attentive attitude.
Other keywords that describe mindfulness well are:
- Be aware of the world around you. You do that with your senses. This keeps you present.
- To be constantly aware of your actions, words, emotions and thoughts. You do that with a breather, for example.
- Thanks to the above point, you don’t just let yourself be chased or upset. You get clarity and peace.
- You are considerate of other people’s needs and your own needs.
Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light? Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?
– Tao te Ching
To pursue the meaning of mindfulness, we have to cross a gray area. So read on in the next paragraph …
What is mindfulness not? Opinions are divided on this …
Mindfulness as we know it originated in the University of Massachusetts in the 1970s under the direction of Jon Kabat-Zinn as the Western variant of Vipassana meditation , taking the ‘spiritual edge’ off. For example, it is often not called meditation, but mental strength training, and it is often not even called spiritual.
However, lead developer Jon Kabat-Zinn continues to remark regularly that the ‘spiritual edge’ does indeed belong: feeling that we are connected with other people. However, this is too woolly for ‘the Western market’, so that these kinds of spiritual statements are not made around mindfulness training.
So the spiritual aspects can be involved in mindfulness, but they don’t have to. Many mindfulness teachers in the West take advantage of this by explicitly labeling mindfulness as non-spiritual. For example, non-judgment is a very spiritual practice, but within mindfulness training it is often presented as non-vague as possible: ‘Mindfulness is about not interpreting things (reminds me of …)’.
What is Mindfulness Therapy (MBSR)?
Mindfulness therapy is the reason mindfulness has become so well known in the west. Led by Jon Kabat-Zinn, thousands of people have been examined at the University of Massachusetts after following an 8-week mindfulness schedule. This showed that various complaints such as depression can be cured.
This 8-week program became known as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is now taught in almost every city.
What do you train in mindfulness? The attitude qualities / benefits of mindfulness
By means of simple exercises you work on the following:
1. Train your attention / concentration, in other words: do one thing at a time
This is an important one. Your mind becomes calm and clear as you develop stronger attention and concentration.
You train your concentration by doing one thing at a time. If you have a cup of tea: know that you are drinking a cup of tea. If you wash your hands, know that you are washing your hands. If you are going to do a sitting meditation, do it without an underlying goal. You’re just sitting and that’s it. In Zen this is summed up with the sentence: ‘When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep. ‘
In mindfulness meditation, you let everything be there and you observe it. Be fully present with whatever is happening right now.
Trust yourself. Trust the body and the signals your body gives. Trust everything that arises in the here and now through you. Trust that this will bring an enormous amount of quality.
There may be ups and downs while taking a mindfulness program. So it is nice to be gentle with yourself and give yourself time.
4. Don’t judge, but observe
With mindfulness you are busy not having any judgment and only actually perceiving what is here now.
An important means for this is: observation. And to observe means that you do not judge, or that you want what you observe to change. In this way we also zoom in on painful feelings in the body. If we don’t judge by that, then they are merely painful feelings. With judgment, suffering would begin. We now also know how happiness feels, because we have also felt pain.
5. Discovery: having a look of a child
Mindfulness is also about having a fresh outlook, as if you were experiencing everything for the first time. As if you were experiencing everything for the first time every day, you experience the world: curious, open and alert. This also has to do with non-judgment, because when you judge things you ‘label’ things with words, so that you no longer have to discover them in their fullness with a fresh look in the here and now.
6. Being mindful of emotions, thoughts and other “objects” that you are not
Many mindfulness exercises will also make you aware of feelings and emotions in your body. This automatically puts you in the role of a witness to your emotions, so you don’t appear to be the emotions . This means you are no longer overpowered by your emotions.
If you were to say this in “spiritual terms,” you would argue that you have just become a little more aware by being a witness to everything that happens. And that consciousness, that’s very peaceful and that’s actually who you are.
It is a sign of an evolved mind to be able to play with a thought without accepting it.
7. Being busy in the here and now
Engaging yourself in what is here . And concern yourself with what is here now .
8. Don’t strive
Being busy in the here and now automatically means that you have no underlying goal in mind. You are not striving for anything. You let go of the goal, so that you bring quality to what you are doing now. Paradoxically, this actually ensures that your goals are achieved much better.
9. Not being reactive
Not being reactive anymore, for example when someone says something to you that causes irritation or when you feel nerves as an automatic response before you have to give a presentation. Instead, you can choose new habits with choice.
To have acceptance for what is here now. Being willing to see, feel and experience things as they are, without wishing it to be any different. Say yes to what is! You experience things as they are, without wanting the other to be. That is otherwise the beginning of suffering.
11. Letting go: detachment
If you can let go of something or if you are already detached, it no longer has any power over you and will let go of itself.
Aren’t all these things a bit the same?
As you might notice, all of the above points are somehow connected. It is, because the peaceful feeling you get from meditation includes all of these things. You then get a kind of feeling of ‘infinity’ that contains all the good things.
However, this is a ‘too woolly’ proposition, which divides it into the more concrete above 11 points or ‘attitude qualities’ of mindfulness. If you want to read more about ‘spiritual’ meditation and its benefits, you can do so here.
84 mindfulness exercises
If you want to test mindfulness exercises, look here for 84+ exercises.