Why you should Forget Everything you Know about Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a word that we keep hearing over and over again. But do we really know what it means? And let's be real, is it actually possible to integrate the practice of mindfulness into our daily lives?

We wanted to clear up any misconceptions, so we sat down with life coach & mentor Angela Mulvay to go back to basics.

What is mindfulness and how long has it been around for? 

Mindfulness is simply paying attention in the present moment. It has been around for approximately 2,50 years, but has only been popular since the 70's. This is due to 'mindfulness-based stress reduction' or MBSR, developed by a professor of medicine Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn.

I was first introduced to mindfulness through my doctor. He signed me up for an 8-week MBSR course to assist my chronic pain. It changed my life and commenced my journey into mindfulness. 

Good to know that mindfulness is helping you. So, why should we practice mindfulness? 

Mindfulness helps depression and anxiety by bringing your attention to the present moment.

Depression makes you focus on the past. Anxiety means you are focusing on the future or what hasn't happened yet. Mindfulness brings you into the present moment. It gives you a break from your past and future and helps to alleviate your stress. 

Sounds amazing. But why are we so bad at practicing mindfulness in the present day and age? 

It’s no surprise that everyone struggles with mindfulness. This is largely due to technology. We are constantly attached to information which can lead to a high state of anxiety.

By stepping away from technology and replacing it with mindfulness, we can take back control of 'time slipping out of our hands' and give us a way to focus in the present moment.

Mindfulness doesn't have to take long. A few seconds a day can be enough. It helps to ground us and reduce our stress levels to bring our awareness into the now. 

Given the benefits of mindfulness, do you think it should be taught in schools? 

Mindfulness is as essential to living as breathing is. Yes, it should be taught in every school. Children need mindfulness to bring attention to the present moment. They can learn how to live inside their body and not search for other objects or things to fill empty spaces. For example, when they grow into adults their emotions could influence them to overspend, overeat and take drugs to fill the void. 

What are your best tips for practicing mindfulness?

Sit or stand somewhere, and take three big and slow breaths.

Close your eyes, and focus on five things you can hear. List these five things slowly in your mind. 

Open your eyes, and list five things you can feel. 

Then, list five things you can see. 

Rinse and repeat the above as needed. You should hopefully feel centered and in the present moment. 

That's great. Given the nature of what mindfulness is, does it get a bad reputation? 

We have brought old into the new age, and it's 'hippy' connotations can give mindfulness a bad rep. There is simply a lack of understanding and education about what mindfulness is. 

On the other hand, mindfulness is increasing in popularity. People are getting extraordinary results because it stops you from chasing elusive things you don't need and fills empty holes you think you have. Mindfulness is calming, brings you happiness and is free. So why not?!  

Thank you Angela, what you have shared with us is invaluable.

- The Good Trend