The simplest way to think of mindfulness is moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness, created by purposefully engaging in the present moment with an attitude of curiosity, openness and flexibility.
So why is this important?
When we are involved in familiar surroundings or activities our minds can tend to wander, meaning we simply go through the motions. In these situations we revert to auto pilot and habit, and risk missing important experiences.
Similarly, when we are stressed or feeling uncomfortable we can revert to habitual patterns of response to avoid the source of the discomfort. This can have a significant impact on our ability to learn and grow.
In addition to this, when we disconnect with our present experience, our minds are more likely to start sifting through the past, finding negative experiences, failures and embarrassing events, or creating imagined future problems or threats. So it is easy to quickly get hooked on worrying about things that are really not issues.
When we are ‘inside our heads’ we are also more likely to miss things that are important to our work, relationships and our safety.
Whilst mindfulness may feel awkward at first, this is simply the effect of learning a new practice. Think of mindfulness as your gymnasium for focus and purposeful engagement. The more you practice the better the results.
Simple mindfulness practices can enhance your ability to be present when you want to be, and to manage the tendency for your mind to wander.
By adopting simple mindfulness practices it is possible to be more present and to build your ability engage moment by moment in your experiences, even those that are uncomfortable, enhancing your ability to learn and grow.