Understanding mindfulness


Anubha Upadhyay

Mental Health Ambassador

What I think mindfulness is

In my understanding, mindfulness is the state of mind when a person is fully aware of the present situation in a non-judgemental way, not clinging to the past or not anxious about the future. It is a state in which you only focus on what you are doing at that very moment.

For instance, while eating, you should only focus on the food, like its taste, its aroma, its texture, its freshness, how soft or crunchy it is, and how you feel about the food you’re eating.

Another example of being mindful is putting all your focus only on one single activity during work instead of opening 20 emails and answering 10 calls within an hour. This will help make you more efficient and productive, as well as help reach a level of excellence. Everything related to that work is where your major focus should be, and all distractions should be brushed off - during that time.

So in essence, mindfulness simply means taking back the wandering mind to the present situation – resulting in a higher level of awareness.

Ellen Langer (PHD, social psychologist at Harvard University) said, ‘Mindfulness is an active search for novelty whereas mindlessness is passively zoning out of everyday life.’

Our mind is sometimes emotional and sometimes rational. Both are important parts of our personality. However - a wise mind should is a balance between rationality and emotionality. A human is indeed a rational being, but no human can take decisions without being a little emotional in some way. The right amount of emotions also empowers cognition and decision making. So, it is very important to strike a balance between both rational and emotional mind.

The 'mindless' part of our mind works on the automaticity of thoughts. Thoughts automatically pop up in our mind, often confusing and frightening us for no reason. To be mindful, one cannot be governed by their thoughts, but rather be guided by them.

Simple checklist for incorporating mindfulness into your life

1) Do not let temporary/frivolous desires overpower your mind.

2) Stop evaluating yourself and others when not required.

3) Try to reduce being engaged in automatic/mindless behaviour

Attributes of mindfulness

1) Acceptance: Accepting everything the way it is, is very important. One needs to be more attentive and responsive to the present situation rather than being fixated on the past or living in the imaginary future. Being in the present moment by accepting the current situation is a major attribute of mindful awareness.

2) Empathy: Empathy means putting oneself in the person’s shoes – feelign what the other prson is feeling. In mindful awareness, empathy plays an important role in understanding your own present situation, thoughts and feelings.

3) Trust: Trusting your senses, emotions, feelings and being a rational thinker is very important for mindful awareness.

4) Generosity: Being kind and generous along with being more loving, not overthinking about gain or loss, and behaving in a way that is full of compassion is another aspect of mindfulness.

5) Non-judgement: You have to allow yourself to not be partial, stereotypical, prejudiced or judgmental about any situation. It will help you look at every situation as novel and fresh, allowing you to see it clearly rather than getting biased.

6) Non-striving: Non-striving does not mean 'living without goals' but rather - detaching yourself from the desire of outcome which leads to worry, tension and stress, all of which cause a person to lose focus on the present work. Put in hard work with careful planning – but let go of the worry about the outcome.

7) Letting go: Sometimes, it is good to let go of things that are harming us mentally – even if they seem important. Some examples of this can be toxic friends/relatives, bad jobs, etc.

8) Openness: Seeing things as new will help you take things as challenges to be tackled instead of burdens to be borne – life goes through ups and downs and you can welcome them as part of a fabulous journey.

9) Gentleness: Bringing gentleness and softness to one's thought patterns are also very important - life is short. Don’t pick up wrong habits like being rude or arrogant – be gentle to others and yourself as well.

10) Loving Kindness: Kindness is underrated, it is an amazing and rare quality ot have. The important thing to note here is that you must be kind to those around you – but you must also be a little kind towards yourself.

Everyone can make a mistake, including you. If you’ve made mistake – learn from it, seek forgiveness with humility and then carry on with life. Don’t beat yourself up for something that you couldn’t have controlled.

11) Patience: Being patient and trusting the process will lead a person to be present at moment, and by being calm you will not lose your mind over something that is beyond your control.

12) Gratitude: Allowing oneself to be more satisfied and content with the present and always being thankful will help the person to be more mindful and live a happier life.

So, these are my thoughts about mindfulness. Hope you found them to be useful.

PS. You can try this absolutely free mindfulness course by Dave Potter at Palouse Mindfulness.

View more content by Anubha Upadhyay

Discussion Board

What do you think mindfulness is?

Rohit Chopra
Hey Anubha - great article. As you've explained in the article mindfulness is about being in the present - not living in the past or future. 🌺✌️
Asit Kumar Maurya
Good work
Shrika Thakur
Nice 👍
Anubha Upadhyay