Buzzword: Mindfulness

There is a mindfulness revolution these days.  This buzzword is often used with self-compassion, gratitude, and meditation to round out a complete picture of warm and fuzzy well-being.

Before you think I’ve gone drinking the hippie Kool-Aid, however, check out the research on how mindfulness increases happiness, lowers stress, and promotes well-being.

feel the grass under your toes this summer

I think of mindfulness as a step that anyone can practice at any level at any time. It is best described as “moment to moment awareness”, which can take place through practice or in brief periods throughout the day.  Mindfulness is also the common denominator behind many bits of advice:

•Have you ever heard that to help manage your weight, you should eat with no distractions, chew slowly, and savor the taste of your food?

•Have you been told that multi-tasking, especially with electronic devices, decreases your overall efficiency and takes you out of your ability to get absorbed in an activity?

These suggestions are encouraging you to increase your mindfulness.  When you are eating, eat your food.  When you are writing a proposal, you are writing that proposal.  Mindfulness is the act of doing each single thing as if you did nothing else.  Most of us are extremely mindful in ways every day.  For example, if you play a sport, you are focused on that baseball coming at you.  If you are giving an important speech for work, there is no time for other thoughts in your head.  You are present, tuned in, and doing only that activity.

Why try it?  Well, in addition to the building research on stress reduction, you’ve probably read about the myth of multitasking.

I have clients who begin with mindfulness using a simple activity that they do every day, such as brushing teeth, chopping vegetables, or taking a shower.  It is hard to understand the benefits you will enjoy based on practicing mindfulness during these simple activities.  The idea is that over time you will grow mindful in other areas.  The research is compelling and I think this buzzword will become a part of well-being for a long time to come.

Read recent posts and some more basics at Psychology Today.