Mindfulness is that attribute of consciousness that instils a physical and emotional wellbeing in your life. The concept of mindfulness has been adopted from Buddhist and other meditative traditions where conscious attention and awareness are cultivated and encouraged. Hence, it is defined as being a state in which the person actively pays attention to what is occurring in the present.

Every individual does in fact express a basic degree of attentiveness and awareness in their daily life. But what we fail to comprehend is the empirical importance we place in the quality of consciousness exhibited, is unfortunately not sufficient.

Defining mindfulness

Mindfulness has been described by Thich Nhat Hanh as “keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality”. It deals with both awareness and attention. Awareness acts a tool, which enables one to perceive stimuli in the inner and outer environment without bringing them to the centre of attention.

Awareness infact pulls out information for the attentiveness to focus on to achieve a heightened perception of that experience. For instance while eating a meal, one can concentrate on the moment-to-moment sensation of taste through a receptive attention and concentration achieving mindfulness.

Achieving mindfulness

Recent research has shown that the enhancement of mindfulness can lead to a heightened wellbeing but many of us fail to achieve the summit of mindfulness that will bring about a life altering change to their lifestyles.

Many of us have a tendency to question the sanity of dedicating precious time and effort to a fictitious belief between struggling to meet hectic deadlines and implement chaotic timetables. But contrary to popular belief, mindfulness is a reality that pivots around simple tasks and can be achieved in any setting as long as you possess the willingness to try it.

Mindfulness does not involve thinking, judging, solving or reflecting. It just achieves placing your mind in a state of rest after a hectic day to observe thoughts, feelings and body sensations to achieve an insight that leads to an improved wellbeing.

Mindfulness involves five basic components:

  1. Perceiving your personal thoughts, feelings and actions without exercising any judgement
  2. Perceiving your external environment in the present
  3. Achieving an awareness of your senses in the present moment
  4. Entering a state of here-and-now without reacting to busy thoughts
  5. Cultivating an acceptance of your present moment experience

Tips to cultivate mindfulness

Mindfulness can be achieved in any setting as long as you learn how to connect with your mind. Here are a few basic steps that will enable you to implement the art of meditation to reshape your lives without hampering your busy routines:

  1. Mindfulness at home: If you find it difficult to dedicate time specifically to mindfulness, you can develop a state of connecting with your mind through daily activities. By observing pets and children and using them as tools to guide your practice, you can achieve your goals conveniently. Children and pets have a mysterious ability to live completely in the present moment. By connecting with the way they react to situations, you can observe their behaviour in contrast to your response in the same setting (e.g. temperature, noise, darkness). Thus by concentrating on the sensual aspects of your baby or pet’s surrounding you can train your mind to formulate a different response from your usual automated one.
  2. Exercising right: Always keep in mind that exercise can be any physical activity. We tend to attach a positive or a negative approach towards exercise like convincing ourselves that we achieved a goal if we ran a certain distance or that we are useless if we fail to do so. If you participate in exercises without being judgemental about it, you achieve much more during the same session. Another aspect to contemplate upon is eradicating factors of competition and accepting your limits. You should not exercise to calm your inner critic but to achieve a sensation of inner satisfaction without being judgemental. So a ten-minute exercise every morning to satisfy your consciousness will ensure you to remain more aware during the day.
  3. One- minute morning activity: On a busy workday, make sure that you spend one minute after waking up freeing yourself of all intrusive thoughts and concentrate on your breathing. Keep checking in on your breathing for moments throughout the day. Notice the depth, speed and volume of your breath. This is a good way to ensure your attentiveness through the day and it helps interrupt your auto-pilot thoughts and responses.
  4. Nature therapy: Research has proven that being surrounded by shades of green cultivates our mindfulness and instils a feeling of freshness that activates our concentration and creativity. City life lacks a generous level of encounter that one experiences with nature parks. Thus it is essential that you locate the nearest park to your residence and implement a healthy routine of a morning walk where you spend a few moments concentrating in the present. Notice and acknowledge your intrusive thoughts and then let them recede as you come back to your breath and the present moment.
  5. Mindfulness at work: It is incredibly difficult to achieve a state of mindfulness in the work environment but certain objects can help you reach that level of peacefulness. Triggering mindfulness through sensory perceptions is easier than starting from scratch. For sight, pleasant images like a beautiful landscape photo framed besides your desk can help. Chocolates help to achieve this state through taste or an object with a noticeable texture or temperature like a rock or ice cubes can assist you. Infact using a combination of perceptions like concentrating on the aroma of your coffee mug, feeling the warmth on your fingers and tasting it while paying attention to the flavour while sipping on it will help train your mind to achieve mindfulness effectively.

The pathway towards achieving a stable spiritual essence in your life winds down a twisting road, which we tend to stagger past while struggling on the focused path headed towards a pinnacle of perfection.

Surviving the soaring hustle and bustle of a city life leaves us with little opportunity to explore our psychological and spiritual awareness. However it must be established that every individual possesses the opportunity to achieve a level of awareness through the practice of mindfulness to harness stability in their lives irrespective of their lifestyles.

Australia Counselling can link you with professional counsellors, psychologists and therapists that use mindfulness and meditation approaches in their work. Visit our meditation page and mindfulness page to see counsellors that work with these approaches in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and regional areas of Australia.

photo credit: Tina Leggio, flickr