Mindfulness is a popular topic in on both social media and in the academic literature. A quick search on the academic journal article search engine PubMed shows that in the year 2010 there were 569 academic articles published on the topic of “Mindfulness”; fast forward to the year 2020 and there were 2645 articles published on the topic. With this surge in new research on the subject it is no wonder why it has gained to much attention. This article will briefly explain what mindfulness is and how it can benefit you.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined by the Oxford Languages dictionary 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.” Anything can be done mindfully. You can read this article mindfully or with a mind that is not fully focused and aware that you are even reading an article. When we are not thinking about the present moment we are often thinking about the past or the future. In an interesting article published in the journal Science titled “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind” reported that out of 2250 adults 46.9% of minds wandered throughout the day, and that whether their minds were wandering or not was a better predictor of an individual’s happiness than what they were doing.
How to be more Mindful
Mindfulness is a skill and like any skill it must be practiced regularly. There are a few different ways to start practicing mindfulness. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit down, close your eyes and focus on whatever thoughts are circling in your head, and in doing so acknowledge them without becoming attached to them. A useful metaphor for this strategy is to imagine your thoughts are like waves on the ocean – rising and falling. Initially the waves may be large and hard to navigate, but over time they begin to shrink and lessen; they become smaller and more manageable. Eventually the sea has calmed, and the once loud ruckus of the sea is now a smooth landscape. When you are practicing mindfulness, it can be helpful to focus on your own breath, or soft music without lyrics. Another strategy is to pick a few different tasks throughout your day and be intentionally present during them. For example, when you brush your teeth in morning or are driving to/from work; don’t think about what you need to accomplish that day or what you did the day before – focus on the here and now.
Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness can help influence our nervous system by helping us relax and destress. It gives us a better stability of mind, flexibility of mind, self awareness, and lets us act rather than react. We are then able to go about our day with a clearer mind, shift our focus to a subject of our choice, better understand our thought patterns and make better choices throughout the day.
If you want to talk more about mindfulness or how you can make mindfulness practice a part of your day, then speak to one of our Physiotherapists at Panther Sports Medicine. Contact us to learn more.
Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932-932.