Mindfulness: What does it mean and why is is important?

We’re almost back into the swing of things at Uni, classes are about to start and as of next week all of the new and returning students will be flooding onto the campus grounds – excited to get back into their respective degrees.

We had our mentor training session today – where we went over all the do’s and don’ts of supporting the new students. The thing that stood out the most for me was the little chat that we had about mindfulness. I found it really encouraging to see that such a simple concept was being embraced on such a grand scale; and as a result I was inspired to write this blog post.

What is it?

In a nutshell mindfulness is;

  • The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something (Google Definition)

 

  • “The unfailing master key for knowing the mind and is thus the starting point; the perfect tool for shaping the mind, and is thus the focal point; and the lofty manifestation of the achieved freedom of the mind, and is thus the cumulating point” (Nyanaponika Thera – Buddhist scholar and monk)1

 

  • A deceptively simple way of relating to experience, has long been used to lessen the sting of life’s difficulties, especially those that are self imposed (from the text Mindfulness and Psychotherapy)2

 

Three very different definitions, collected from three very different sources, but essentially all saying the same thing. Need a bit more? Below I’ve embedded a nifty little you-tube clip  (Language Warning!!!) that sums up the entire concept of Mindfulness in under 3 minutes 🙂

 

Why is it important?

Mindfulness is important because it allows us to examine the inner workings of our own mind and recognise when we might be overthinking, exaggerating, losing self-control or procrastinating.  By looking down on our actions and their consequences, as if through a lens, we are able to be objective and instead of acting on impulse – as we most commonly do – we are able to pick our actions based on whichever path we deem to be the wisest.

For example; imagine that you have a group assignment due on Monday, everyone has contributed except for one member of the group who has done the bare minimum the entire time and has now failed to submit their final draft.  Now everyone would react differently in this situation – personally my instinctive reaction would be anger and annoyance and I could be tempted to send off a nasty email or two. But a mindful person would rise above this primal urge and instead examine the situation objectively. Sure writing that nasty email would give me a chance to vent and temporarily make me feel better BUT it probably won’t encourage that last group member to submit their work, and could even make things worse. A mindful person would recognise that maybe there are circumstances beyond the other individuals control that they haven’t shared with the group at large, and that perhaps help and support should have been offered by the remaining group members earlier to ensure that each group member had an equitable (yet fair) workload.

This final clip is one of my all time favourites – it’s simple, short, to the point – and I think (for some of you) it will do a much better job than me at explaining why mindfulness is essential for human happiness.

This is just an example – and by no means am I suggesting that to be mindful you have to let people walk all over you and do the bare minimum. Rather it is the way we deal with these situations, through wise decision making and not raw emotion, that makes us mindful, empowered individuals.

Final Note:

I hope you enjoyed this post. A few people noticed that I took a little break from the internet over the christmas period but I’m back now and I’m planning (hoping) to upload at least one post a week this year. So stay tuned 🙂 Exciting things to come !!

Namaste xx

 

References

  1. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2015). mindfulness.Mindfulness, 6(6), 1481-1483. DOI: 10.1007/s12671-015-0456-x
  1. Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., Fulton, P. R., & ProQuest (Firm). (2013). Mindfulness and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

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