Mindfulness is the act of deliberately paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. It involves bringing the attention back to the present moment when it naturally veers into the past or future.
This causes us to be aware of the full range of our experiences, including sensory impressions, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and impulses. Because we do not judge either the the content or the processes of our mind, we become freer to observe it without identifying with the contents of our thoughts.
It is as if we are watching the stream of consciousness rather than swimming in it.
Some people have difficulty establishing a regular daily practice, similar to maintaining a physical fitness routine. Usually it is best if you make the mindfulness practice a part of your normal daily routine. Try to do it at the same time each day, if possible. The important thing is that your decision to practice is not based on whether you feel a certain way on a particular day or not.
You do not need to feel either relaxed or tense to practice–practice exactly as you already are.
Regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to improve resistance to stress as well as emotional regulation, leading to greater success with changes in brain function that eventually lead to positive changes in the person’s behavior.
Additionally, mindfulness meditation may help with symptoms of depression and anxiety by helping an affected person to control ruminating or overtly negative thoughts.
This type of meditation can help with depression because the patient may be able to recognize negative thoughts patterns as merely symptoms of depression, rather than the Truth. With practice, a person can learn to accept feelings of sadness or worry as being only feelings and can refrain from harshly judging those feelings.
Other benefits that have been associated with mindfulness meditation include increased antibody production, resulting in stronger immunity, control of eating disorders, and improvements in sleep habits.
Mindfulness in the Popular Press