Mindfulness: what is it?
Recently, the term “mindfulness” has been popping up everywhere: every self-esteemed magazine is writing about it, doctors are recommending it, just about everyone seems to be into mindfulness… But what exactly is mindfulness? How can it be beneficial to health? Are claims to clear a variety of illnesses actually true? Mindfulness and cancer: how are they related?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that has been practiced for over 2000 years by Buddhists. The purpose is to learn to look at thoughts and worries from a distance, watch them enter the mind and then to let them go. In other words it teaches us to look at life and all its circumstances that occur, as waves that come and go, nothing more. It teaches us to accept the dualities of life, and to be aware of a moment in itself.
The word “mindfulness” was first used by the American professor Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn who adapted it from a Buddhist term. He was equally the first one to develop a program using mindfulness to reduce stress (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, MBSR). Nowadays it is a globally recognized word, with thousands of courses and programs around this topic being offered. Mindfulness and cancer, has also been studied by various research groups around the world. By practicing mindfulness, cancer patients and survivors are shown to cope better with anxiety and stress, increasing their quality of life. It is also important to notice that mindfulness and relaxation are not the same thing, even though they are related.
How to get started?
To people who are not yet acquainted with mindfulness, it might seem complex, expensive and difficult to learn. Yet the basic approach is so simple and can be applied by everybody, any moment of the day, wherever you happen to be.
Admittedly, it does take a couple of times of trial and error, because we happen to be very used to the constant train of thoughts that invade our minds and bombard us, leading to worrying, more pressure and stress along with all it’s negative side effects (such as sleeplessness, depression, metabolic disorders, etc…).
An incredibly simple way to get acquainted with mindfulness goes as follows: stop whatever you are doing at least twice a day. Just stop, sit back, be quiet, gaze into nothingness and … breathe. Concentrate and visualize your breath as you slowly breathe in and out. When thoughts enter your mind, just watch them, look at them as a spectator and let them go, whilst focusing on your breathing.
It’s that simple, and yet so powerful. It is a first step to get acquainted with mindfulness and feel the positive effect of it immediately.
To learn more about healthy lifestyle habits, visit Esperity.com