If you want to understand your mind, simply sit down and observe it.
– Anagarika Munindra
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a skill, an attribute, a fleeting-to-permanent state-of-attention characterized by focused awareness of the phenomena occurring in your mind and body. It is the awareness of thoughts as they arrive and depart, awareness of emotions as they swell and diminish, awareness of physical sensations, sounds, smells, and visuals as they appear in consciousness.
Mindfulness helps you to learn the inner workings of your own mind, and a growing body of research shows that a lot of good things happen as you build this attribute:
- Increased focus
- Improved ability to deal with your own and others’ emotions
- Greater compassion
- Decreased anxiety and better stress management
- Reduction in pain and depression
- Changes in grey matter density in the brain (specifically in areas related to learning, memory, self-awareness, and emotional regulation)
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that cultivates mindfulness by developing the skill of focused awareness. When we meditate, we choose an object of focus, commonly the breath, and repeatedly return our focus to that object whenever it wanders. Over time and with consistent practice, mindfulness grows.