Updated: Jul 9, 2018
According to The Mindfulness Solution, written by Ronald Siegel, research and clinical practice are beginning to demonstrate that mindfulness provides insight into what causes our distress and it offers us effective ways to alleviate stress.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to our moment-to-moment experiences giving us direct insight into how our minds create unnecessary anguish. Mindfulness practices teach us how to let go of painful mental habits and replace them with more useful ones.
Cultivating mindfulness in the midst of our daily routines takes practice. It involves waking up from the sleep of doing things on autopilot. When we investigate inwardly our own nature it leads to greater clarity. When we increase our self-awareness, it has the potential to help us live with greater wisdom and satisfaction.
The current of our busy everyday lives has a tendency to take over and carry us off to places we may not wish to go. Without the ability to step back in self-observation we may not even realize we are headed down a path we had not intended to travel. Or, when dysfunctional behaviors have become automatic, mindfulness can provide the means for getting ourselves unstuck from the habit of ignoring the present moment.
Mindfulness can help us embrace, rather than resist, the inevitable ups and downs of life. It requires self-observation which involves stopping and being present to the world of thoughts, emotions, and sensations going on within us. Acknowledging and accepting the fullness of each present moment provides insight. Observing each moment as it comes without reacting or judging is a crucial part of the equation. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT educated scientist, the goal is not to suppress the minds natural activity but to accept it and learn from it. The challenge is to work with whatever circumstances you find yourself in and to give yourself fully to what you are doing.
How we measure our success and life satisfaction is continually changing. Asking what your vision is for your life and assessing if your intentions and behaviors are leading you on the correct path is vital to attaining ones goals. This information can provide you with the courage to let go and free yourself from ineffective worn-out views. Empowered with new knowledge you can use mindful action to take charge of the direction and quality of your life. Combined with efforts to act wisely, mindfulness can transform our experience of ourselves and our view of the world.
References and additional reading:
Siegel, Ronald D. (2010). The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems.
Williams, Mark; Teasdale, John; Segal, Zindel; Kabat-Zinn, Jon. (2007). The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. (1994). Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life.
Pickert, Kate. (Feb. 2014). The Art of Being Mindful, Time Magazine. pp. 40-46.