Mindfulness: What It Is and What It Isn’t

“Mindfulness is not about controlling our emotional state. It’s not about becoming stress-free. It is not about trying to be happy at all times.

It’s about learning to observe our emotions as they come and go, just as they are. The power of this is that we begin to see the way our emotions are constantly changing. No state – however miserable or joyful – is permanent.

Once we fully understand this, we feel more empowered to take on life, because we know that whatever we’re feeling is temporary and will pass. We come to accept ourselves more just the way we are, and that, in turn, increases happiness and wellbeing. ” – @mindfulinmay

There is a misconception that mindfulness will be the answer to finding happiness and being a serene perfect being in control of your emotions. The truth is that life is stressful. It’s full of ups and downs and it would be impossible to face everything life throws at us without feeling sadness or stress.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is generally the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing. It is an innate ability that all humans possess, not something we have to conjure up.

One definition by Jon Kabat Zinn is:

“Paying attention;

On purpose,

in the present moment, and


When we’re on autopilot our attention can get consumed by every day through processes which aren’t always positive. If left to its own devices, our mind can wander away from the present. It gets caught up replaying things that have happened in the past of worrying about the future.

When we’re mindful we ‘wake up’ to those thought processes and step away. It allows us to ‘take the steering wheel’and pay attention to our thoughts and feelings. We let go of the tension caused by wanting things to be different, and instead, accept the present for what it is.

How Can Mindfulness Help?

When practising mindfulness we’re not aiming to control or suppress or stop our thoughts or feelings. The range of human emotions are part of life, and with everything we face on a day to day basis, they are impossible to stop.

However, by paying attention to our feelings when they arise we can take a step back before we get caught up in them. Once we understand our feelings better and how they come and go, it helps us accept ourselves and everything around us. It’s about learning to observe our feelings but not getting caught up in thinking or worrying about it, so being able to choose what we attend to.

Mindfulness has been shown to help us cope with stress, feel more relaxed, more open to learning, sleep better, improve our relationships and become more satisfied with our lives.

Mindfulness can take practice. Want some help? Mindfulness in May is offering a 1-month meditation challenge where you will learn from world-leading meditation teachers and wellbeing experts. Find out more!

Picture taken from Instagram. Rejuvage were not paid for this article.



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