Mindfulness is an oft-talked about topic in the area of health and wellness. The premise of mindfulness is making an effort to be constantly aware of your present experiences.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, describes the concept succinctly:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and
Paying particular attention on purpose can lead to many benefits, and usually, happiness and content are highlighted; but have you ever thought that mindfulness can literally save your life? It may not be the usual idea that comes to mind, but let’s take a look at how being mindful can help in this regard.
Mindfulness can save your life
Paying attention to your surroundings
How many people have been involved in a stupid accident because of lack of attention? Think of the drivers who get into road accidents because of a wandering mind or doing something else. They don’t pay attention to road signs, other motorists, and pedestrians. They can end up hurting themselves and/or others, usually even having to consult a personal injury lawyer to sort things out.
On the other hand, if you are purposefully aware of what’s happening at the moment, you can avoid useless negative experiences. For example, when crossing the street, totally pay attention to what you’re doing and your surroundings.
When you are making dinner, you know you’re doing something, but you find your mind wandering. You can just imagine all the potential disastrous things that can happen because of this.
Mindfulness is catching yourself when your attention wanders and bringing your mind back to the task at hand.
Harmful actions range from physical to verbal to emotional. When you’re irritable or angry, your instinct may be to respond negatively – shouting, hitting, or emotional manipulation. If you practice mindfulness, however, you can control your responses.
You intentionally stop your instinctive actions, and think about the situation first. You are in control of what you do or say, which can then lead to not harming yourself or others.
Being more relaxed and appreciative
Stress has been called the “silent killer” because it is considered to be a part of life, but its adverse effects on health may not immediately be critical. However, studies have shown that stress at work has caused illnesses as well as mental fatigues. Take a look at this infographic about how continuous stress can kill you.
On the other hand, being mindful can help you become more relaxed and appreciative of what you have. Understanding what is happening at each moment helps you gain a better perspective, which can reduce the effects of stress.
How to practice mindfulness
The theory is rather simple, isn’t it? Make an effort to always be aware of the present. Analyze, appreciate, and act on the situation with control.
Application may not always be that easy, but you can start with small things. A few examples:
- When you’re in the shower, instead of thinking of dreading the daily traffic-heavy commute, why not just enjoy the feel of the water cascading down on you? Enjoy the scent of your body wash. You’ll come out more relaxed and ready to face the drive to work.
- When taking your lunch break, instead of rushing through a sandwich at your desk, why not step out and enjoy your free time at a cafe or at the park? It may only be half an hour to an hour, but appreciating the taste of your food, the out-of-the-office environment will do you a world of good.
- At bedtime, instead of lying in bed letting your thoughts run rampant – there’s so much to do tomorrow, the bills are due and I don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet, etc. – pay attention to the comfort of your bed. Light some scented candles and let the aroma wash over you.
Mindfulness is a habit, and just like any other habits, you will need some effort and time before it becomes second nature. Why not start developing this habit now and save your life?