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I have been on the chase of living a mindful life for the last 10 years. Let me tell you, it is not an easy road. It takes mental strength, determination, and a lot of hard work. But, once you master how to live a mindful life, your life will be changed forever.

So, first and foremost, what exactly is mindfulness? In simple words, mindfulness means living in the moment. The mind has “a mind of its own” and we cannot control incoming thoughts as hard as we may try. Mindfulness, it entails being aware of your feelings and experiences without passing judgment or reacting in a hasty manner. It allows you to slow down and think about things instead of being detached and going through the motions without comprehending why you are acting the way you are.

Have you ever gone upstairs and did not even realize you have reached the top of the stairs? Likewise, have you ever started eating chips and do not realize that you had an empty packet of chips in your hand? Such things happen, from time to time, to all of us. This is because we are not fully paying attention.

The reason is this hyper-connected world and our busy schedule. Sometimes we stay lost in this so called “autopilot” for most of the time in a day. This way of living makes us emotionless, and we do not even notice the beauty around us. Not only this, but we also fail in listening to our voice. We often get stuck in conditional ways of living and thinking, and ultimately, we are harming ourselves.  

On autopilot, we keep struggling to complete the tasks around us because we are lost in ‘doing’, and we are not living our dream lives.

Now the question is, how do we get off autopilot?

Nothing is difficult in this world if we set our minds to it, and the same can be said for attempting to detach from the ‘autopilot' mode. Mindfulness is not an easy task; it necessitates practicing awareness of our feelings, thoughts, and surroundings.

We can exercise mindfulness by going outside and taking a brisk walk down the street, or by taking a purposefully slow, leisurely walk down the block, paying attention to our sensations and environment. Attending to what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, and so on. We can consume a snack quickly and mindlessly, or we can eat it slowly and consciously. Every bite must be considered. Paying close attention to the snack's scent, taste, texture, and various flavours. We could incorporate mindfulness into our regular routines.

Continuous thoughts replace our attentions when we are on autopilot. However, keep in mind that these thoughts are not permanent; we can easily break free from them when we become aware of our surroundings. We become mindful and focus our attention on the desired ‘in-the-moment' activity.

Consciousness is another way to stay on purpose. If we start paying attention, we will ultimately become more aware, more awake, and more conscious.  

How is mindfulness useful for you? 

Due to research and media exposure, mindfulness is not dedicated only to ashrams, monasteries, and spiritual texts. Now a days, many people are getting benefits from it.

Schools, hospitals, workplaces, and homes are all becoming hubs to teach mindfulness nowadays. People’s interest in mindfulness is rising as people now know how helpful mindfulness is for them.

Research has proven many benefits of mindfulness.  

Here are some of those proven benefits of mindfulness: 

  • Mindfulness helps to alleviate tension, anxiety, and other negative feelings (2). (The amygdala, the brain's "fight or flight" area, shrinks as a result of mindfulness. This primitive brain region, related with fear and emotion, is engaged in the commencement of the body's stress response; this is the part of the brain responsible for so many negative emotions like fear, dissatisfaction, and anger). (3)
  • Mindfulness helps to alleviate depression. (Clinical trials indicate that mindfulness is just as effective as medication and has none of the negative side effects!). (4)
  • Mindfulness decreases sleeplessness (4), improves your sense of well-being (1), decreases lethargy, and boosts mental and physical vitality.
  • It improves memory and ultimately enhances attention and focus (6).
  • Mindfulness increases your emotional and social intelligence, as well as your empathy and compassion (7). It has also been demonstrated to improve interpersonal relationships (8).
  • It supports immunity and improves overall health (9). Mindfulness has also been demonstrated to help with various major diseases, including cancer and heart disease (10).
  • Mindfulness promotes efficiency at work and home by making you clearer and focused on thinking. Sharpens your memory (5).
  • Mindfulness boosts self-esteem and emotional resilience (11).
  • Mindfulness lessens the addictive and compulsive tendencies (12). Moreover, it is also found that it effectively reduces weight loss and works better than any diet plan (13).
  • Mindfulness appears to be the most important factor in deciding the happiness in your life.

*To sum up: the more mindful you are, the happier you are 😊

Literally, you will feel like an entirely changed person if you live a mindful life.

Why not find out for yourself, first-hand, what it is all about if you have not already?

You could come across the most incredible and wonderful surprise. That everything you have been looking for "out there" — feelings of fulfilment, peace, and wholeness — has always been within you.

 

Warmly,

Andra Rooney

Nutrition & Health Coach

 References
(1) Harvard Gazette: Wandering mind not a happy mind
(2) A multi-method examination of the effects of mindfulness on stress attribution, coping and emotional well-being
(3) Baer, R.A., Smith, G.T., Hopkins, J.K., Kreitemeyer, J. and Toney, L. (2006), ‘Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness’, Assessment, 13, pp. 27-45.
(4) Greater good research digest: Mindfulness better than antidepressants
(5) Mindfulness improves cognition including working memory study
(6) Mindfulness improves attentional control and focus study
(7) Mindfulness develops compassion and empathy study
(8) Mindfulness improves relationships study
(9) Mindfulness and immunity study
(10) Effects on mindfulness on heart disease study
(11) Mindfulness and resilience
(12) Mindfulness as a treatment for addiction
(13) Mindfulness, weight loss and treatment of obesity

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