What is Mindfulness?
With the increasing popularity of Mindfulness in the recent times, people have encountered many different descriptions and definitions of Mindfulness. And this may cause confusion as to how it is different from other contemplative practices and meditation.
Mindfulness is a special way of paying attention that can help with how we cope with everyday life or deal with tough times. The Triangle of Mindfulness is a simple and yet profound way to appreciate the uniqueness of mindfulness practices. The Triangle defines Mindfulness using 3 A’s.
The first A stands for Awareness. Awareness is specifically the practice and trait of noticing our inner experiences non-judgementally during mindfulness practices as well as during our daily affairs. It is the ability to be aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, intentions, motivations and actions. It is also sometimes termed as Metacognition.
The second A stands for Attention. It is the ‘paying attention’ and focusing on the present moment that is observed during all mindfulness practices, especially the formal ones. But it is quite different from expecting the mind to be on a single object wilfully or forcefully. Paying attention primarily revolves around ‘noticing’ with awareness and non-judgement also known as 'open monitoring'. Paying attention to our breath without changing the way we breathe is one of the core attentional practices of Mindfulness.
The third A stands for Acceptance. Acceptance is the invitation of all experiences with a sense of accommodation during mindfulness practices. We notice the discomfort, distractions, rumination and all of them without any kind of judgement. This element of acceptance contributes to the increased ability to respond instead of reacting to stimuli.
In summary, Mindfulness is all about Self-Awareness, Paying Attention and Practicing Acceptance.
Who is Mindfulness for?
Mindfulness has been practiced for the past 40 years as a secular practice in spite of its origins in Eastern philosophy. It is a disposition that everybody can develop if they wish to increase their self-awareness, wellbeing and performance. Mindfulness practices have a positive impact on our physical, mental, emotional health and interpersonal relationships. Individuals can enhance their ability to be aware in everyday life, through activities such as the awareness of breath, or even by simply paying more attention during regular activities like walking, driving, eating or something as basic as brushing your teeth. The practice of secular Mindfulness is therefore for everyone regardless of their age, gender, profession, creed and ethnicity.