What Does It Mean To Be Mindful?

Woman meditating

Mindfulness is something that many perceive as either a nonsense idea or something so difficult that only people with years of practice can do it.  The practice of being mindful is often seen as a black or white scenario.   In reality, being mindful can take some time to learn, but it is in no way something to dismiss as ridiculous or as too big an obstacle to achieve.  No matter one’s station in life, mindfulness is a simple concept that anyone can achieve with a little practice and an open mind.


The official definition of mindfulness is “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”  In other words, it is the act of being aware of and accepting what is happening at any moment.  This could be awareness of what is happening in one’s body as a certain thought or event is occurring, and recognizing those thoughts and the body’s reaction to them.  It also could be as simple as stopping to notice what is going on around one’s self.  This includes things like birds chirping, wind blowing, or cars passing by.  Mindfulness is a way of staying in the moment in order to acknowledge what is going on.


To truly understand what it means to be mindful, it is helpful to examine a specific situation in which mindfulness would occur.   One type of mindfulness mediation is walking meditation. In walking meditation, you are noticing your feet touching and leaving the ground as you walk back and forth a certain number of paces.   In this meditation, you are not in a hurry and the focus on taking steps make you happy.   Each step you take is meant to keep you in the present moment. When you do this walk, you are leaving anxiety and worry on the ground and picking up peace and happiness as you take each step.  The notion is that you as you walk, you are aware of what emotions you are leaving on the ground and picking up.  This helps you stay aware of how you are feeling and replace negative emotions with positive ones.


There are many other types of mindfulness meditation.  From body scanning to mindfulness of thoughts, there are plenty of options to achieve mindfulness.  The end goal of each meditation is the same; to make you aware of what is going on in or around you at any given moment.  The practice of mindfulness is meant to translate into daily life.   This way, you are constantly aware of what is going on so you can react quickly to the situation.  For example, through mindfulness meditation, you may notice that you clench your fist when anxious and recognize that noticing the physical objects around you is a way to help relieve this anxiety and keep you calm.  Thus, when you notice that you are clenching your fist because you are aware of what is happening in your body, you start to identify objects present and find yourself calm and present.  Take this example into a real world scenario. You are about to walk into a meeting with your boss and you do not know what it is about.  You notice your fist is clenching, so you start to identify objects around you, making you feel more present and calm.  You have just achieved mindfulness.  You were aware of how your body was feeling, acknowledged it, and stayed in the present.


Mindfulness can be a wonderful tool to help you focus on the now.  It can be practiced in many different forms and is something that can be put into practical use every day.  Being mindful is a powerful way to stay in the present moment and become aware of your constant state of being in order to stay focused, calm, and joyful.