Pura Botanica Blog

Mindfulness: What exactly is it?

This past year, the practice of mindfulness seemed to be the cool kid on the self-improvement block. Companies like Google and Apple started hosting meditation programs for their employees and star athletes like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant use mindfulness to help them stay on top of their game. Several therapists recommend it to their patients as it has been found to be incredibly beneficial for a host of wellness related issues. It’s the new buzzword we hear floating around, but what exactly is mindfulness?

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When you think of mindfulness, what probably comes to mind is the image of a person doing yoga sitting cross-legged contemplating life. But you might be surprised to find that mindfulness is not the same thing as meditation. It is actually something anyone can benefit from, as it comes in many forms.

At its core, mindfulness means to be fully engaged in the present moment by being aware of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the environment around us. Focusing on the present moment is helpful as anxieties and sadness often occur when we dwell on something that happened in the past or worry about something that may happen in the future.

So, why is it good for me? Research has actually identified some fascinating benefits of mindfulness. It has been found to boost your immune system, reduce stress, decrease depressive symptoms, increase concentration and even reduce pregnancy related anxiety and stress. Some of the other benefits include relationship satisfaction, increased cognitive memory and a decrease in insomnia and fatigue.

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Everyone can benefit from incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives. Again, all mindfulness practices are centered on engaging all five senses in order to notice the world around you and your own thoughts and feelings in that moment. It is something you can practice on the way to work, on an afternoon walk, at home or even at your office. In fact, researchers at Florida State University even found that washing dishes mindfully can reduce stress and calm your mind as you wind down for the night. Whatever it may be, get creative in your mindfulness practice.

Famous yoga instructor Kabat-Zinn once said, “It’s not really about sitting in the full lotus position, pretending you’re a statue in a British museum. It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment.”