Mindfulness is a term you may have been hearing more and more about in recent years. Mindfulness, simply defined, means to bring our awareness or attention to the present moment. Mindfulness has long been a part of life. Examples of mindfulness are meditation, prayer, deep breathing, and yoga.
Being mindful or in the moment, allows us to "let go" and become more aware of and appreciate our senses, such as listening intently to the sound of the rain or the crunching of snow under our feet, or the smell and taste of a favorite treat.
The study of mindfulness has gained widespread attention, study, and use in our western society by physicians and psychotherapists. Many of these mental health and medical practitioners are trained in mindfulness techniques to help their clients and patients.
The premise of mindfulness training is to increase awareness of "what is." That is, what is in the present moment.
Mindfulness is clinically proven to be effective in the treatment of an increasingly wide array of psychological problems such as depression, stress, and anxiety, as well as with medical disorders.
For example, a person with anxiety can experience relief from racing thoughts by being trained to release thoughts as just that, only thoughts. He begins to realize that his thoughts are just thoughts and have no bearing on who he is as a person. Thoughts are only temporary. As he becomes able to release his thoughts and let go of the past and of worries about the future, he begins to appreciate the present moment, and as a result, a reduction in his anxiety. He also gains the wisdom that the present moment is the only moment we ever have, whether that moment occurred in the past or occurs at a future time, we always only live in the present.
Mindfulness does not have to be a complicated process or a complete session of sitting and meditating alone, for example. It can be done simply by bringing one's attention back to what is happening in the present moment. This can be practiced by re-focusing our attention on our breath and tuning into our senses. This can enable us to live more fully in the "now" and with less stress.