We’ve all heard the time “mindfulness” or “mindful,” but do we know what it truly means? Additionally, what makes being a mindful person so important?
While there are several definitions for the word, it can best be described as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique” or the more to-the-point “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”
A 2012 breakdown by the National Institutes of Health looked at the effects that mindfulness can have on our health.
“Many of us go through our lives without really being present in the moment,” Dr. Margaret Chesney of the University of California, San Francisco told the authors. “What is valuable about mindfulness is that it is accessible and can be helpful to so many people.”
Studies suggest that mindfulness practices may help people manage stress, cope better with serious illness and reduce anxiety and depression. Many who practice mindfulness report an increased ability to relax, a greater enthusiasm for life and improved self-esteem.
One NIH-supported study found a link between mindfulness meditation and measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning and emotion. Another NIH-funded researcher reported that mindfulness practices may reduce anxiety and hostility among urban youth and lead to reduced stress, fewer fights and better relationships.
Dr. Susan Smalley broke down the concept in a recent article in Psychology Today and had this to say…
I recently discovered an object of art that reflects this value of mindfulness visually and textually. It is a fishing vessel or vat from India created by Indian artist Subodh Gupta. The vessel is 65 feet in length and crammed with objects—fishing nets, an old television, tables, chairs, a bed, pots and pans, tea kettles, etc.—everything a single fisherman might collect in a lifetime. The title of the piece is ‘what does the vessel contain, that the river does not’, a quote from the Muslim poet Rumi in the 13th century. The river is the metaphor for the oneness that I experienced and we all may find through an awareness of consciousness, self, and the nature of reality from an intuitive experience. The boat represents an individual life and the collection of objects—life experiences—that are unique and a reflection of our single lifetimes.
For a more personal look at mindfulness, we asked The Endorphin Effect staff that very same question: why does mindfulness matter?
Mindfulness matters because it can help you become more self-aware. It can help you be more in tune with your mind, body, and spirit thus help manage stress and reduce anxiety. – Priscilla Rodriguez, Yoga Instructor
Mindfulness allows the opportunity to be completely honest with oneself in the present moment. – Angela Salazar, Yoga Instructor
Mindfulness is a state of being. When you are mindful there is better outcome from your input. – Miwa Gardi, Founder
If you, as the person, who wants to improve are not aware of your movement patterns, cannot fully appreciate how this can impact your behavior. Your mind and body must work in unison to impact both your physical and mental status, thus the the movement creates the behavior. – Humberto Medina, Operations Manager
Mindfulness helps is recenter our minds in the chaos of the busy world. So often we find ourselves distracted and lost in our thoughts. Overtime this can accumulate to literally years of time focusing on things that prevent growth. By being mindful and aware of our thoughts, desires and actions we can clean up the clutter in our minds. – Michael Hohmeier, Personal Fitness Trainer