At all times we are surrounded by different things, be it our home environment, sounds, other people or other things. We believe we are able to process all information. In truth, our brain only registers about 5 % of the moment. The rest flows in on us unprocessed and can lead to negative stress or anxiety. What if we create the possibility to shield ourselves from new stimuli and give ourselves time to process them or to perceive moments more intensively?
What is mindfulness?
The term is currently very popular. But what is it all about?
Mindfulness has its origin in Buddhism and is the attitude to pay full attention to the present moment. It also describes an open and value-free way of dealing with one’s own thoughts, feelings and experiences. This can be expanded even further by consciously experiencing not only a moment, but also the environment, one’s own body and mood. This means that mindfulness is a special form of attention. A situation is experienced in the here and now with an alert body and mind. The intensive perception of the present is a characteristic. The second unbiased judgement. We constantly evaluate things positively or negatively. The challenge here is to switch off our own evaluations and not to let them guide us.
Mindfulness to treat symptoms
Probably the most obvious benefit is that by being mindful we can succeed in setting a focus. From thousands of information streams we consciously choose one that we want to focus on now. By reducing input, our brain has to process less, does not feel overwhelmed and in the end we are less stressed by fewer stimulations. The principle of stress reduction through mindfulness was already recognized in the 1970s by the professor of medicine Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He developed the eight-week program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This is said to have positive effects on the human state of health, which in turn contributes to a healthy lifestyle. There is another effect on the regulation of emotions. Through conscious perception, the emotions come to the surface. However, as they are not subject to any evaluation, they are simply admitted and accepted. This helps to perceive negative emotions less unpleasantly and even creates space to give them a new perspective. Before an important meeting, for example, we are often stressed. From most people this directly takes on a negative tone. But we can also accept the feeling and rethink it in such a way that we need a certain amount of tension to deliver our best right away. One scenario, two opposite interpretations. You decide how you want to see a moment.
One additional point should be added here. We can not only direct our consciousness to external things, but we can focus on ourselves. By dealing with ourselves, we give ourselves the opportunity to get to know ourselves better and discover our abilities. We therefore know much better what personal resources we have and are available to us.
Mindfulness to solve problems
Besides reducing stress, mindfulness can help to solve our own problems. If we turn our full attention to ourselves, this opens up another dimension of self-perception for us. We recognize emotions more intensively, make our thoughts clearer and are aware that experiences play a major role in everything we do. Now we add the aspect of an unbiased judgement. It opens a door to redefine a difficult situation. With a neutral attitude we succeed in creating a certain distance to the current situation. If we can do this, we can mentally lift ourselves out of the moment and look at the whole thing from the outside. This provides us with a higher quality analysis of the situation. Added to this is the benefit that we have a much better overview from this position and reveal more solution strategies. We are not emotionally trapped in the situation and allow ourselves to take a more rational view. This allows us to direct supposedly negative feelings in a meaningful way and to act self-determined. As a result, we can make better use of our own abilities and contribute to problem solving ourselves.
All these points can contribute to a better attitude towards life and our health. If we know ourselves, we will be able to deal better with different, even unknown, situations. It can also help us to be more courageous to leave our comfort zone and willing to allow new things to happen because we know our abilities.
How can I practice mindfulness?
You do not necessarily have to register for a mindfulness course or register on an online platform. There are many small exercises that you can integrate very well into your everyday life. For example, you can take a few minutes to focus on your breathing. This works best in a relaxed sitting position. You can observe how you breathe. Are they long or short breaths, do I breathe through my nose or mouth, does my breathing flow into my stomach or chest and does something change when I focus on it? Another exercise is to observe other people without judgement. What are they wearing, what colour is which garment, how many different materials do I recognise?
There are many ways in which we can make our attitude towards life and health more positive and give us a short break from the world of overloaded stimulations. One of them is mindfulness. It gives us the opportunity to reduce stress and to see our own situation from a new perspective. With this approach, a temporary relaxation of the experienced can begin. This creates space for us to accept ourselves more, to be more patient and supports self-determined action.
“The best way to take care of the futureThich Nhat Hanh
is to look carefully at the present.“