Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness is a word that you might have been hearing more often in your daily conversations. At first you may think that you understand what the other person is talking about when they use that word, but the longer the conversation continues, the more you start to doubt yourself.

You begin asking the question, “What is mindfulness?”

Simply put, mindfulness is the state of being in which your mind is completely focused on one particular task or thought. It means being aware of your current engagement or state of being. Mindfulness is sometimes spoken of using the words “presence” or “intentionality.”

Being present in your interactions means giving your full attention and focus to what you are currently engaged in. Being intentional means being purposefully engaged in what you are doing. Both of these words help capture the idea of mindfulness.

Okay, now you have a little better understanding of what mindfulness is and the way the word is used. But you might not feel fully confident to fully speak on the topic. Don’t fret, here are the main concepts you need to know to be confident in your understanding of mindfulness.

Mindfulness Takes No Special Skills

You do not need to have any special skills or talents to practice mindfulness. In fact, you already perform mindfulness on some level every day. For example, when you purposefully enjoy a moment with family or friends, when you are fully engaged in a work project, or when you intentionally allow yourself to process an emotional state you are engaging in mindfulness. In all these instances, you have a conscious awareness of your current engagement or state of being.

Congrats! You’re already mindful.

Mindfulness is innate in us and does not require any new special skills. That’s good news! You already possess all the skills needed to practice mindfulness. But there is still work that needs to be done. Even though you possess the basic skills, you still need to cultivate mindfulness.

Mindfulness Takes Practice

Let me ask you a question: What in life doesn’t take any practice?

Answer: Nothing. Even the most naturally talented sports players, musicians, and artists still practice to develop their innate skills. Mindfulness is no exception. But don’t worry too much, this type of practice will not consume an excessive amount of your time.

Practicing mindfulness can take as little as five minutes a day. To practice this, spend five minutes just sitting and noticing. Notice all the different sounds that are occurring around you. Notice the rhythm of your breathing. Notice the buzzing of the overhead lights. Notice the cars driving by outside.

Next, notice the smells that are around you. Notice the smell of flowers nearby. Or the scent of the room you are sitting in. Now notice the feel of your clothes or the textures around you. Notice the light in the room you are sitting in. Notice the shadows that the light creates. Notice the feelings and sensations occurring in your body.

Practicing mindfulness can be as straight forward as that. It’s simply developing your ability to intentionally recognize what is in the moment, in the present.

Mindfulness Has Benefits

Have you ever seen a car that has his windows down and is being submerged in water? The water rushes in the windows. This rush of water happens so quickly that people inside cannot withstand the force. In fact, the survival advice for being trapped in a sinking car is to wait for the car to fill up with water before you climb out of the window. You will never be able to overcome the pressure of the water when it is rushing in.

This is very similar to life. We are constantly bombarded with information and stimulation throughout the day. It is a constant stream coming at you. As it occurs, you can’t go the other way.

Mindfulness helps us step out of the stream of constant stimulus. We learn to purposefully select the specific stimulations that we want to focus on. This gives us the ability to go in the other direction. It gets us out of the chaos and into a place of peace and tranquility. There are amazing benefits to being in control of this current.

Now You Know

Now you have a better understanding of what mindfulness is, what it does and doesn’t require, and the benefits of the practice for you. Next time you are in a conversation and someone speaks about mindfulness, join the conversation. Share your thoughts and experiences. And do this intentionally, practicing mindfulness in the moment.

40 Mindfulness Quotes

1- When you realize nothing is lacking the whole world belongs to you. ~ Lao Tzu

2- Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole world revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

3- Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated that that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. ~ Sylvia Boorstein

4- As soon as we wish to be happier, we are no longer happy. ~ Walter Landor

5- In today’s rush, we all think too much – seek too much – want too much – and forget about the joy of just being. ~ Eckhart Tolle

6- The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing that you are doing. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

7- If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including people who drives us crazy can be our teacher. ~Pema Chodron

8- If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama

9- Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are. ~Allan Lokos

10- Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

11- If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. ~William Blake

12- If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. ~Amit Ray

13- Do every act of your life as though it’s the last act of your life. ~Marcus Aurelius

14- In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infintie possibility. ~Victoria Moran

15- Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t). ~James Baraz

16- It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest as if it was the only one we had. ~Elisabeth Kbler-Ross

17) Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life. ~Seneca

18) Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. -Buddha

19) Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity. -Johann Wolfgang von Goeth

20) The way to live in the present is to remember that ‘This too shall pass.’ When you experience joy, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ helps you savor the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary. ~Joey Green

21) There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have…But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss. ~Anthony de Mello

22) If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. ~Rabbi Harold Kushner

23) The practice of mindfulness begins in the small, remote cave of your unconscious mind and blossoms with the sunlight of your conscious life, reaching far beyond the people and places you can see. ~Earon Davis

24) As long as we have practiced neither concentration nor mindfulness, the ego takes itself for granted and remains its usual normal size, as big as the people around one will allow. ~Ayya Khema

25) Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in the small uncaring ways. ~Stephen Vincent Benet

26) The basic root of happiness lies in our minds; outer circumstances are nothing more than adverse or favorable. ~Matthieu Ricard

27) If one were truly aware of the value of human life, to waste it blithely on distractions and the pursuit of vulgar ambitions would be the height of confusion. ~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

28) The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love they will bloom like flowers. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

29) We have only now, only this single eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day and night. ~Jack Kornfield

30) Mindful and creative, a child who has neither a past, nor examples to follow, nor value judgments, simply lives, speaks and plays in freedom. ~Arnaud Desjardins

31) Our lives are lived in intense and anxious struggle, in a swirl of speed and aggression, in competing, grasping, possessing and achieving, forever burdening ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations. ~Sogyal Rinpoche

32) Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

33) To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

34) The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

35) The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

36) When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves. ~ Jack Kornfield

37) Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

38) Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

39) The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another. ~Jack Kornfield

40) Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality. ~Thich Nhat Hanh