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How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life?

Written by: Flora Bami, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Mindfulness is one of the most simple ideas, and when practiced, a very powerful and life-changing concept. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, and aware of where we are and what we’re doing and it is developed by purposefully paying attention in a sustained and non-judgmental way, to what is going on in our body, our mind, and in the world around us.


Mindfulness allows us to fully, intimately, and kindly engage with our life just as it is. I like describing mindfulness as a gym workout for our mind. We all know that going to the gym to exercise is good for our body, it keeps us fit and healthy. Mindfulness training is just like taking our brains to the gym for a workout.

When we practice mindfulness, we are training our attention to stay in the present moment instead of wandering off with our thoughts into the past or the future.


Mindfulness keeps us connected to the present moment, aware of our thoughts, feelings, and the central truth of our experience.


With mindfulness, the mirror of perception is cleansed, and we learn to see our world without judgment or resistance. Mindfulness is like a mirror. It reflects back to you what is here, what you are experiencing, with no embellishment or goal, judgment, or resistance. It’s a way to rest in a safe, compassionate place.

Practicing mindfulness and setting the intention to be mindful in our life, will benefit our lives in various ways:


1. Build self-awareness


Self-awareness involves being aware of different aspects of the self including traits, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, habitual patterns, values, emotions, and actions, and being able to interpret them objectively.

Self-awareness is the most important muscle we need to develop. It's what will keep us on target to be the best version of ourselves and unleash our potential.


Mindfulness is the bridge to self-awareness. How? With mindfulness practice, we learn how to pause and observe our thoughts, emotions, and actions with zero judgment and compassion. By doing that consistently, over time we are building a deep and clear understanding of our patterns, triggers, behaviors, and how we are programmed. We simply become aware of ourselves in a profoundly powerful way and become more aware of our cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and somatic streams. Only then, we have the power and freedom to choose which thought or action is aligned with our values and purpose in life.


Mindfulness practice allows us to embrace suffering without reacting, resisting, or repressing it and offers us the freedom to break automatic habits by bringing awareness to them. Each moment of mindfulness weakens the chains of conditioning and brings us closer to liberation. In moments of clear awareness, we have a choice of how to respond.


2. Stress reduction


When I asked my coach four years ago how to deal with stress, surprisingly she simply invited me to practice mindfulness across all my daily activities. This was some of the best advice I have ever received. Over time, I realized that mindfulness is a superpower that can fundamentally improve our lives.


To live mindfully is to bring greater awareness to each activity, to be more present in each moment, and to catch subtle experiences that all too often get unnoticed.


Why is being in the present moment better than having a wandering mind in the past and future? Past and future are the enemies of mindfulness. Simply because we cannot change the past and we cannot control the future. Ask yourself how much time and energy do you spend being in the past and how much in the future? How does that make you feel? When you catch yourself in the past, you may experience sadness, regret, disappointment, and resentment. When you try to predict the future, you may feel uncertainty, fear, and stress. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious and stressed because we want things to be different than how they are.


With mindfulness, we learn to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, we can think about why we have these feelings and the specific triggers. Then, we have an easier time taking a step back to calm down instead of feeling overly stressed. We can process our emotions without being critical or worried about something going wrong. We are more focused and concentrated, hence more productive and naturally we feel more relaxed and relieved.

There is a lot of research behind that too. The American professor Jon Kabat-Zinn founded mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in the 1970s at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It is now used by hospitals and other treatment centers to help alleviate the symptoms of physical and mental health conditions. MBSR is a popular method to help those with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, addiction, immune disorders, high blood pressure, and more.


“The very first and most important step in breaking free from a lifetime of stress reactivity is to be mindful of what is actually happening while it is happening”, John Kabat-Zinn.


3. Better relationships and communication


Mindfulness makes us more present with each person we meet, more aware of the other person’s feelings and the many messages conveyed by subtle body movements and vocal tones. This allows us to attune to their motives and emotions and to be more empathic with their feelings. These are essential social skills, vital for anyone who wants to enjoy good relationships. Empathy is an especially crucial skill and research shows that mindfulness is one of the few methods to enhance it. Interpersonal relationships are significantly improved by learning to observe and accept things and people as they are. People who are more accepting of their partners are also more satisfied with their relationships. Instead of focusing on their partner's flaws and trying to change them, mindfulness makes it easier to accept that their partner is not always perfect.


By practicing mindful listening, we see a great improvement in our communication and relationships, on a personal and professional level. Mindful listening is a way of listening without judgment, criticism, or interruption while being aware of internal thoughts and reactions that may get in the way of people communicating with us effectively. We are fully present listening to what the other person says with compassion and genuine interest, listening with our heart, mind, and body. Mindful listening encourages honesty, trust, openness, and connection. When we pay attention to our conversation partner, we show that person they are being heard, thus building trust and making that person feel like their words matter to us.


When was the last time you felt truly heard?


“Being heard is so close to being loved”, David W. Augsburger.


4. Savor the moment


“Savoring is about learning to live presently to fully enjoy the gift of each moment, to give that moment the space and attention it deserves. It takes practice, but it’s a delicious practice. As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise, you will miss most of your life.” Buddha.


Savoring is our capacity to attend to, appreciate, and enhance every moment in our life with gratitude and enjoyment. Mindfulness allows us to engage our senses and recognize and appreciate the nuances of sensation: the subtle tastes and aromas of food, the background rhythms of music, and the tapestry of colors in a natural setting. Mindfulness is the great antidote to absentmindedness, making us less prone to daily mistakes such as forgetting where we parked the car. Refined senses enhance the appreciation and pleasure of each moment. Because each experience is more rich and satisfying, there is less craving for more experiences. The appreciation of quality replaces the raw hunger for quantity. Refining the senses is an excellent mental training that fosters beneficial qualities such as concentration and calm.


When we learn to be present and savor the moment, according to scientific research, our well-being is improved and we find beauty in simple activities in our daily life. When we give ourselves permission to stop and take stock of the here and now, we experience greater positive emotions, happiness, and resilience.


5. Emotional agility and inner peace


Mindfulness is a pathway to emotional agility and inner peace. As we grow in mindfulness, we can become more aware of the true nature of our feelings, name them accurately and accept them, welcome them, and truly feel them in our bodies. We need to learn to feel all our emotions and go through them, give them space and label them without judgment. Emotions do not last long if we don't resist or try to avoid them.


Dr. Susan David in her 2017 TED Women’s Talk, spoke about emotions. She said that persistence in our self-exploration and self-compassion opens the way for us to be more emotionally agile and more open to life’s experiences. We can establish control over our emotions through meditation and by developing self-regulation. The starting point is naming and accepting our emotions with loving kindness and compassion. Emotional agility is the ability to be with our emotions with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take values-connected steps.


As our mindfulness muscle grows, we create an awareness that helps us to reflect on ourselves and consciously go through life. In doing so, the known and the familiar should be viewed from a new perspective. We can find inner peace in hectic moments and create inner serenity. Every time we take a peaceful step or one mindful breath, our spiritual practice grows. Every time we embrace a strong emotion with mindfulness and restore our clarity and calm, it grows. In this state, we can connect with our wholeness and true self, stay centered, and still, and find our purpose and meaning in life.


Living a life where we know how to handle stress, are more self-aware, savor every simple moment daily, access a state of inner peace, build emotional agility, and maintain healthy relationships, sounds like what we are all looking for, right? We can access that through mindfulness.


Start your mindfulness practice now


Starting a mindfulness practice is simple and easy. Your day-to-day activities offer ample opportunities to call up mindfulness at any moment. These simple practices will breathe space into your daily routines.

  • Mindful eating (the joy of food without distractions)

  • Mindful movement (yoga or simple stretches)

  • Mindful listening (listen with your heart without judgment)

  • Mindful walking

  • Mindful music

  • Mindfulness meditation

  • Mindful speech

  • Daily activity with mindfulness (washing the dishes, walking the dog, other)

  • Silent prayer

  • Connect with nature

Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it. When we were kids, we were immersed in the present moment, it was our way of living. We simply need to reconnect with it by training our mindfulness muscle daily.


“Even not practicing is practicing in a way, if you are aware of how you feel compared with when you do practice regularly and how it affects your ability to handle stress and pain”, Jon Kabat-Zinn.


Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative life-changing phenomenon.


It’s a way of living. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better. It’s evidence-based. Both science and experience demonstrate their positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships. Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.


Through mindfulness, we develop an understanding of the connectedness of all things, which leads to greater tolerance and compassion for ourselves and others, and a deep sense of gratitude for our unique path in life.


Focus on the here and now. The present moment is a gift.


Flora Bami

ICF Integral Coach Holistic Wellbeing strategist / Diversity & Inclusion expert


Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Flora Bami, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Flora Bami is an optimist, an experienced and passionate integral coach, with expertise in life, mindset, relationships, and wellbeing coaching. Her main focus is on making your relationship with yourself healthier and reframing your inner voice based on self-love, acceptance, and compassion.


Her mission in life is to support people in their life journey to reach their potential and feel better and happier through individual coaching and setting up wellbeing programs in big organizations.


Better people, better world!


Happier people, happier world!


After going through a deep transformation herself and turning trauma into a gift, she dedicated her life to supporting people reconnecting with their true selves.

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