Behind the Mindfulness Craze
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Health and Wellness

Behind the Mindfulness Craze

What does it even mean to be mindful?

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Behind the Mindfulness Craze

Unless you live on Mars, you've heard people talking about being mindful: from mindful eating for weight loss, mindful sex for better relationships, mindful parenting for better connections with children. The list goes on and on.

I took "Spirituality in America" at UVA last semester and learned a lot about this topic. I now try to incorporate it into my daily life and have had good results. Here's the deal:

Mindfulness is derived from Buddhism, and is practiced within the philosophy/religion as well as outside of it. Basically, it means to really be present within your life and to do everything with purpose. For devout Buddhists, it involves a lot of meditation and going outside of oneself. Rather than thinking, you are aware of your thoughts and acknowledge them. A person from the UVA Mindfulness Center came and spoke to our class, and we all did a simple meditation exercise together—focusing on our breathing. She suggested counting each breath until we reached eight or whatever number we preferred before restarting. For at least a second or two, all of us succeeded in not actively thinking. If meditation isn't really your thing, I suggest you mark out a time each day to not be on your phone or computer. You'd be surprised how unfocused these devices make us.

Mindfulness extends beyond breathing. Instead of getting really stressed out and frazzled, I use it to bring myself back to the present. We've all had days that fly by in a craze, and at night I sometimes feel as though the day flew by but that I didn't really live it. By just being aware and tuning in to your surroundings and appreciating the moment you are in, you can eliminate this problem and have a clearer mind.

This also eliminates the need to always be thinking about the next moment or what you are going to do later, rather than being where you are and focusing on what you are doing. I've found myself even doing this at fun activities like concerts that I love instead of just focusing on the music in front of me and enjoying the moment.

A lot of people have found success with practicing mindfulness for weight loss. For example, many of us eat while watching TV and get no enjoyment from our food, causing us to feel the urge to snack needlessly. By focusing on and savoring your food, you will appreciate it more and really enjoy it. While some think this works best when alone, I have no problem doing it while enjoying a meal with a friend. It really makes you feel more grateful.

I also try to practice mindfulness when running. Rather than just looking at exercise as something to get out of the way, I focus on what I am doing and it has made me enjoy running more. If I'm listening to music when I run, I focus on each song.

So, whether in a stressful situation or going out to eat, I suggest you try and incorporate mindfulness. You don't want to miss out on any moment of your life.

The clip below is from when Buddhist mindfulness expert, Thich Nhat Hanh, came to Google and showed employees how to practice it:


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