“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see”
-Henry David Thoreau
In our life, there are so many things that we experience without noticing them. It is through mindfulness that I came to understand this quote.
Most of the time we immerse ourselves in our anxieties and thoughts rather than being present in our environment. How many times have you left your home for the office or market and later wondered whether you switched off the geyser or the gas burner? Many of us are functioning in an autopilot mode without really paying attention to the present. At any given point, we are either concentrating on the past or thinking of the future. In the process, we are missing out on the joy of being present in the moment.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment—judgement-free and entirely.
According to Jon-Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-based-stress reduction technique,
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”.
As we practice mindfulness, we realise that our own experience of life is changing in a fulfilling manner as we connect with our world in new ways.
Some of the benefits of mindfulness include improved concentration, decreased stress, increased self-awareness and self-control. It also helps us to be more compassionate, kind and accepting towards ourselves and others.
Mindfulness may be practised in a formal manner like body scan, mindful breathing, mindful listening, and mindful eating to name a few. We can also practice mindfulness in our daily activities by making cues for it. For instance, we could choose activities like washing our hands, drinking water, brushing our teeth, or ringing phones as some of our cues to bring our awareness to the present moment.
My personal experience with mindfulness has helped me become more aware of my surroundings and to notice the beauty of everything around me. What is even more amazing is that every time I observe something new, which had escaped my attention earlier.
The practice of mindfulness has also helped me observe my thoughts and feelings from a distance and to realise that all my thoughts are not facts. It has aided in objective reviewing of feelings and to be able to differentiate between various feelings. This self-awareness has led to better self-management.
Here is a simple exercise for you. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Listen to and focus on the sounds around you. How was the experience? Were you able to notice some sounds which escaped your attention earlier? Do share your observations and experience in the comments below.
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