The essence of Mindfulness is knowing what you’re doing while you’re doing it. Mindfulness is about being fully immersed in the present moment and all that it holds, not in the past or the future. The attitude of Mindfulness is to let go of the stories we have about our past and our future, and engage with curiosity and non-judgmental acceptance of whatever happens to be in that moment, good or bad. Because whatever the present moment is, pleasant or not, is transient. It will pass.
Meditation is a heightened focus or awareness, the formal practice of Mindfulness. It is a state during which one’s mental activity may be slowed, and deep mental and physical relaxation may occur. The technique is simple but not easy. As with any newly learned skill, patience and persistence are necessary for lasting benefit.
Meditation is the formal practice or training to be focused and present. Mindfulness is the moment to moment awareness of being present without judgment, with whatever happens to be in that particular moment. It’s just like going to the gym may be the formal practice of getting fit, while taking the stairs and walking to work is the moment to moment process of increasing your fitness.
Anyone motivated to learn meditation can easily do so. Motivation is important because although the process of meditation is a simple one, to gain maximum benefits it must be practiced regularly. This regularity of practice requires discipline. Just as a new exercise routine requires regular and disciplined practice before the benefits are realised, so too it is with meditation.
Meditation taps into the innate potential for healing that we all have. It mobilizes and develops our ability for self-awareness and self-compassion as well as compassion for others, helping to improve self-esteem and providing a general feeling of relaxed well-being.
Studies reveal that Mindfulness decreases symptoms of physical, mental & psychological distress, and enhances mental & physical health and well-being. It also causes changes in brain structure in the areas concerned with attention, focus, emotional resilience and self-regulation.
The central outcome of Mindfulness is improved self-regulation of thoughts, emotions, behaviours & physiological reactions. At work, a mindful person is more focused on task, less ruminative, displays more positive social connections at work, has greater emotional resilience, displays more health-promoting behaviour, and is happier at work.
Positive Psychology is the study of human strengths. Unlike mainstream psychology that seeks to determine what is wrong with us and how to fix it, positive psychology studies what are the best qualities in humans, the ones that provide us with strength and resilience, and how to enhance them.
The study of Positivity is a growing field within the discipline of Positive Psychology. In particular, the work of Barbara Frederickson has been important in the understanding of which emotions enhance our sense of wellbeing. Developing a positive mindset can help to build resilience, improve self-esteem, increase happiness and wellbeing and improve physical and emotional health. Furthermore, studies show that specific exercises can produce increases in happiness and decreases in depression within six months.
Many peer-reviewed papers have now been published on optimism and evidence indicates that: Optimistic people are much less likely to die of heart attacks than pessimists; learning optimism by ages 10-12 halves the rate of depression as these school children go through puberty; happy teenagers go on to earn substantially more income fifteen years later than less happy teenagers, equating for income, grades, and other obvious factors; university students with high scores for optimism have half to one-eighth of the risk for developing moderate to severe symptoms of depression relative to the rest of the student population;
All parents know that some children are born with a naturally cheery and optimistic disposition whilst others need more encouragement to see the brighter side of situations. But a positive attitude can also be learned.