Mindfulness is a pretty hot buzzword these days; open any article about improving your sense of fulfillment or happiness in life, and you’re likely to see the word displayed prominently within the first few paragraphs.
Contrary to what this obsessive use of the term in the popular culture might have you believe, however, mindfulness may actually live up to the hype.
In today’s world, our attention is often dragged in multiple disparate directions at once. In one moment, we’re looking for the best mattress deals, in the next, we’re planning a vacation, stressing about an impending deadline at work, or wondering whether we’ve put on weight.
Mindfulness in general, and mindfulness meditation in particular, can be a way of fighting back against the constant torrent of stress, fatigue, and distraction that seems to plague us all.
By creating a “gap” between you and your thoughts
At its heart, mindfulness meditation is about focusing your attention on a particular anchor or focus point, noticing when you get distracted, and gently returning your focus to the anchor, over and over again.
Contrary to popular belief, the meditation isn’t about “stopping” thoughts, but is rather about learning to detach from your thoughts, so that they can pass by in the background while you keep your focus elsewhere.
A regular meditation practice will help to create a feeling of there being a “gap” between you and your thoughts. You’ll experience your thoughts as things that you can detach from and view in an unemotional, objective kind of a way, instead of as things that have complete control over you and which you can’t become free of.
This can help you in an almost endless number of ways throughout life. For example, when you’re under a lot of pressure at work, you’ll be better equipped to take a deep breath and keep moving on, instead of having a mini-breakdown.
By improving your sense of calm and clarity
Research has suggested that people who meditate regularly have a greater sense of calm and mental clarity than ordinary people, meaning that they are likely that much happier and more content at the same time.
The implications of calmness and clarity of mind don’t end with a general sense of positivity, however. These skills are also invaluable when it comes to keeping a clear head at the office, not to mention seeing the root of a problem and addressing it, during a stressful episode at home.
By reminding you of how resilient you are
In some sense, people are both fragile and also remarkably resilient. Many people experience devastating setbacks in their lives, and keep moving on with a sense of purpose, contributing positively and improving the lives of those they meet along the way
As mindfulness meditation separates us from our thoughts, it also gives us a clear sense that our essential self, the true “us”, is something above and apart from our thoughts and disappointments.
In this way, mindfulness meditation can help us to feel anchored, and remind us of how resilient we really are.