We hear the word ‘mindfulness’ used more and more. We’re told that we should live a life of mindfulness and to ‘live in the moment’ but do we really understand what these terms mean?
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Mindfulness is not just about living in the moment. If we spend all our time living in the now we can lose awareness of the bigger picture or the longer term of our lives. This is where true mindfulness comes in.
So how do we define mindfulness in the simplest terms? Mindfulness is about cultivating an awareness of our surroundings, our actions and our thoughts. Put quite simply it means to act deliberately in all we do, think and say. By living mindfully every day we take control of our lives and our destiny. We think about – and understand - everything we put into our bodies, we plan our actions and take full responsibility for them. We act in a caring way at all times to those around us – regardless of how they act with us – and we are always conscious of our place in the bigger picture of our world.
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Practicing mindfulness means giving a purpose to everything, and not allowing life to just ‘happen.’
Here is an example of how mindfulness can improve our lives: I have a neighbour who spent many years in discomfort with itchy, dry skin. She believed that it was just bad luck that she was ‘cursed’ with bad skin. Her misery caused her to be constantly irritable. It never occurred to her to see a doctor or a dermatologist to investigate the cause and it took a very observant friend to pick up the fact that she would take frequent long, hot baths and that this was most likely the cause. My neighbour cut back on her hot baths and began to use a body moisturiser and her skin improved dramatically - and so did her moods. If my neighbour had been more mindful she would have investigated the possible causes of her discomfort.
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Mindfulness applies to all areas of our life, our relationships, our health and our work. Once you begin to practice mindfulness it will become easier and will eventually be a natural habit.