Mindfulness is a natural quality of the human mind. Unfortunately, we’re out of touch with it much of the time, especially when we’re busy and have a lot to do.
But you’re bound to have had experiences of mindfulness, without having labelled them as such. You’ve probably experienced mindfulness most clearly when you’ve been at your best, enjoying one of your favourite activities. It could be a sport or a hobby, peak performance at work, a special occasion or spending time with a special person.
Whatever the activity, there are particular qualities: being really present and alive to your experience. Being deeply absorbed in this and only this – nothing else bothers you. There’s a deep sense of satisfaction.
These are all qualities of mindfulness: presence of mind, vivid perception of experience, absorption in activity, deep satisfaction.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Cultivating mindfulness brings a wide range of different benefits (all of which have been demonstrated in published research):
With mindfulness you become more resilient in the face of challenges life throws at you. There’s a reduction in stress (of up to 30%) and anxiety (up to 70%). You develop better responses, and when you do take a knock, you bounce back more quickly. There are even physical benefits – your immune system gets stronger with mindfulness, and your sleep improves.
performance under pressure
Because you have a lower stress-response, you can handle more pressure without ill effect.
Mindfulness helps you to focus more clearly, with less distraction, for longer. So you can get more done, and produce better work. Your memory improves too.
As awareness increases, this includes emotional awareness. That helps you avoid “emotional interference” from anxiety, anger etc. Instead you get a boost of calm, clear confidence that generates better responses to challenging situations. You can communicate, negotiate and influence more effectively.
In a positive, mindful state of mind, you’re more open to fresh new possibilities (from your own mind and from those around you). One study found that effectiveness at creative problem solving was doubled by shifting from fight-flight to mindfulness.
with your mind performing at its best, you’re better able to intuitively weigh up different factors in a complex situation and come up with better decisions more quickly.
enjoying life more
mindfulness helps you to enjoy work more and find it energising rather than draining. That means you’ve still got energy and positive emotion at the end of the day – so you can really enjoy quality time with your loved ones.