3 Few Reasons Why You Might Really Need A Bit More Mindfulness In Your Life
Cover Photo By Pixabay
“Mindfulness” has become an extremely popular and prevalent term in recent years, largely via the work of public figures such as Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and others. Even the famous atheist, Sam Harris, has had a lot of positive things to say about the benefits of meditation.
Mindfulness practices are deeply rooted in yoga, and in ancient spiritual traditions from different corners of the world, but particularly those stemming from Asia. In its most secular form, “mindfulness” implies the ability to fully experience and engage with the present moment, and to step back from the endless cycle of rumination and contemplation that characterises much of how we typically spend our waking hours.
There are many potential benefits of mindfulness, and of different mindfulness practices. Yoga is well known for its many health benefits, but even seated mindfulness meditation – which is, to say the least, not very “physically active” – has been coming to the attention of researchers in recent years, for its apparent ability to help people deal with stress, improve their sense of well-being, and enhance their overall health.
There’s a good argument to be made that mindfulness practices might benefit everyone on some level. Here are a few reasons why you, yourself, might really need a bit more mindfulness in your life.
1. Because your thoughts and fears can easily rob you of the present moment, if you let them
Life is a funny thing. More specifically, the way we conceptualise time, is a funny thing. When we are looking back at the past, we are dealing with things that have already happened, and fundamentally can’t be changed, or re-experienced, except second-hand, via memory. What’s more, our memories can often become distorted and tainted by the state of our thoughts and emotions in the here and now.
People who are struggling with depression, for example, will typically not only become deeply melancholy and unhappy in the present moment – but will also reframe and re-contextualise the past, and interpret it in a much more negative light, as a result.
And when we are looking to the future, we are dealing with hopes, projections, fears, and plans that have not yet come to pass, and that will only ever exist in the abstract.
Of course, dealing with the past and future is an essential part of what it means to be human. No one can truly live entirely in the present moment – and if they did, the kind of life they were living properly wouldn’t be much to most of our tastes. Among other things, it would be a life devoid of fun memories of time spent with friends and family, and also devoid of optimistic plans for the future.
All the same – it is certainly true that our thoughts and fears can easily rob us of the present moment, if we let them. What’s more, it’s very difficult – and maybe impossible – to really get a handle on our thoughts and fears solely using willpower and other “active techniques.”
Mindfulness is fundamentally about stepping back from your thoughts and observing them in a neutral manner. This is different from “eliminating thoughts,” and it can be an excellent way of preventing your negative internal monologues and states from dominating your life, and making you miserable as a result.
Of course – when you’re able to step back from your concerns in this way, you become much more capable of living in an active, engaged, and positive manner.
2. Because focus and attention to detail make you more effective in life, as a whole
Everyone knows that they don’t do their best work when they are heavily distracted, and are constantly subjecting themselves to all sorts of different diversions, excuses for procrastination, and so on.
Quite the contrary, in fact. High-quality work requires focus and attention to detail – and those are things that it’s becoming harder for most of us to achieve these days, in light of the fact that YouTube and various social media platforms are only ever a click away.
The author Cal Newport has written extensively on the importance of focus in achieving what he calls “Deep Work.” According to him, it’s precisely the ability to focus on the matter at hand, and tune out all distractions, that leads to us unlocking our greatest capacity for creativity, problem-solving, and productivity.
One of his books – “Digital Minimalism,” – specifically deals with ways of reducing these distractions, in a digital context. Again, the whole emphasis is on becoming better at focusing on what’s right before you.
Mindfulness is, to a large degree, about developing this exact same skill. It’s about developing strategies for safeguarding our focus and attention from the constant barrage of outside factors that can make us less productive and engaged, and that can drag us away from the task at hand.
In fact, mindfulness goes a step further. It’s also about developing the ability to step back from those distractions that rise up within our own minds.
Focus and attention to detail may well make you more effective at your work. But they also make you more engaged in your personal life, too. After all, who wants to be the person who can’t focus when a loved one is talking to them?
3. Because the chronic stress that comes from distracted living, has serious health repercussions
Everyone essentially wants to be in the best possible state of health they can manage, whether or not they explicitly engage in particular exercise and wellness routines in the pursuit of this aim.
It’s a truism of the ages, though, that stress – specifically chronic stress – is one of the number one contributors to ill health of all sorts.
When you are chronically stressed, and your levels of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are perpetually spiked, your whole body begins to break down systematically, and everything goes wrong, from hormonal imbalances, to organ damage.
Much of the chronic stress that we face in modern life comes from the hyper-distracted lifestyles that we typically lead. Specifically, with regards to not properly occupying the present moment in a focused way.
Mindfulness is all about addressing this issue – and taking up a regular mindfulness practice may well improve your health comprehensively, across the board.