Mindfulness at its core is simply attending to what is happening fully. It refers to focusing on what one is doing, the space one is in. Although, it may seem trivial but our mind tends to wander away from the matter at hand. It is the basic human tendency to pay attention and be aware of what is happening in the current moment. Mindfulness is an innate ability that can further be cultivated through various techniques. One can be mindful while walking, eating, and/or taking small pauses between everyday chores. It can be something as simple as focusing on every sip of water one takes. When human beings are mindful, it can help in reducing stress, enhancing performance, gaining insight, and improving awareness through increased attention.

Myths about mindfulness

  • The first and foremost is that mindfulness can only be practiced in a quiet space. Though sitting in a quiet space can help observe feelings and bodily sensations easily but mindfulness can be practiced while going about one’s day. For example, while doing the dishes one can observe various things like the temperature of the water, the texture of the soap, the bubbles that are being formed, etc.
  • Mindfulness is only for people who are relaxed. Mindfulness can ingrain greater flexibility in the minds of individuals leading to calm and peaceful behaviors.
  • Mindfulness equals focusing or concentration. While the benefit of increasing the ability to concentrate and focus can come from practicing mindfulness, it is certainly not just about focusing and concentration. Mindfulness at its core is about cultivating awareness but concentration can be an important skill to cultivate for well-being, but it is not mindfulness.
  • Mindfulness is having no thoughts. Many people wrongly believe that mindfulness requires a blank mind. However, it can be looked at as a suspension of judgment rather than thoughts.

Mindfulness vs meditation

Nowadays, the terms mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably. However, mindfulness is paying attention to something like our thoughts, our surroundings, what we are doing, etc whereas meditation is the awareness of “nothing” and is a way to live life mindfully as mindfulness is only one aspect of meditation. Meditation is a large umbrella term that encompasses the practice of reaching ultimate consciousness and concentration.

Mindfulness at the school level

Incorporating mindfulness at the school level is linked to social, academic and emotional learning. Mindfulness is a powerful tool that supports children in focusing their attention, calming themselves and interacting effectively with others. It can help both teachers and students to reduce stress, strengthen attention and focus, support social and emotional growth, and resolve the inevitable conflicts that arise in a better way.

Mindfulness at work

Mindfulness at workplace is directly linked to motivation. Individuals who practice mindfulness at work show a reduced work-life conflict, increased job satisfaction, and an increased ability to focus their attention. Mindfulness in the workplace allows leaders to let go of thoughts about the past and future and focus on the present. Leaders who master this ability can hold meetings that take place in the present and let go of previous meetings. During stressful periods, employees with high levels of resilience are able to persevere and remain engaged and productive. Hence, mindfulness at work can support resilience by equipping employees with the ability to understand their emotions, their level of stress, and their ability to influence them. Furthermore, mindfulness training enables employees to respond to difficult situations effectively and has shown to have a positive effect on burnout, wellbeing, and stress.

Mindfulness at home

Mindfulness at Home is all about transforming the relationship with the humdrum work of taking care of a home. Cleaning and decluttering can be done while practicing mindfulness. This can be an effective way of turning one’s mood around and feeling positive emotions. It focuses at being present at the moment and being aware of the work an individual is involved in.