“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is a type of mental training often accomplished through meditation. The purpose of practicing mindfulness is not to change your thoughts, but rather to change your relationship with your thoughts. As such, an elementary principle of mindfulness is the idea that you are not your thoughts.
During a mindfulness meditation, you allow your thoughts to pass through your mind without judgment or criticism. As we saw in the clip above, you become an observer of your own mind. What does this do? In the short-term, it allows you to observe what’s going on around you, in the present moment, without bias. It provides a buffer which calms your emotional and physiological reaction to stressful thoughts. Over the long-term, mindfulness can not only prevent depression, but it can positively influence the patterns in the brain which underlie stress, anxiety, depression, and mood swings. Negative emotions don’t just disappear (nor should they), but they dissolve away more easily.
The next time you have an argument with a loved one or you’re stuck in a traffic jam or you feel overwhelmed with stress, take a moment to put yourself in a frame of mind where you are not worrying about your own interests in the argument, you’re not trying to make a point or waiting for your turn to speak, but merely taking a second to take everything in and accept the situation before you.
A moment of mindful contemplation of the senses, of the world around you can lead to a frame of mind where you’re no longer concerned with your own personal fears and worries, with the problems and challenges of the day. A moment of true mindfulness can lead to a true appreciation of life. As it says in Buddhist scripture, “Develop the mind of equilibrium. You will always be getting praise and blame, but do not let either affect the poise of the mind: follow the calmness, the absence of pride.”