Your mindfulness journey has begun. Unless you’ve been living on the edge of the moon for several years now, it’s likely that you are already familiar with the idea of practicing mindfulness meditation. In the United States alone, however, the mindfulness meditation industry is said to be expected to hit $2.7 billion by 2021. To put that figure in perspective, that’s more than the gross domestic product of many countries.
What is mindfulness, really? Practitioners of mindfulness call it “moment awareness.” It is a state of being which exists in the present moment – not time or space, not illness or death, and certainly not an attitude of “us vs. them.” By practicing mindfulness, you become aware of the sensation of your breath as it comes in and goes out, of the tension that you feel in your muscles and joints, and of any emotions that you are experiencing at the moment.
The first step in what is practicing mindfulness involves breathing deeply and slowly, focusing on each breath. Mindfulness meditation is similar to yoga in many ways, but there are some distinct differences, too. Yoga can involve as much as a hundred physical postures, while mindfulness meditation typically starts with breathing deeply and slowly, then relaxing your body, before bringing it back to awareness again. Even beginning meditators can benefit from breathing deeply and slowly while walking, sitting, and getting up from a chair.
There are also two major forms of mindfulness meditation: mindful attachment and mindfulness detachment. The former aims at letting go of various clinging and attachment types, including stress, fear, anger, and other kinds of negative feelings and emotions. The latter involves being mindful of whatever you are doing, or in this case, thinking about whatever you are doing. The goal of both of these types of mindfulness practices is to let go of habitual patterns and behaviors that lead to attachment anxiety. You may not have heard the term, yet attachment anxiety is a major problem for a great number of people, especially those who are carrying too much “stuff” inside of them.
So what is practicing mindfulness about? Practicing mindfulness means that you do something more in each moment. This doesn’t mean you go on living in the past or the future, or dwell on anything that isn’t currently happening. What is practicing mindfulness about is learning to let go of these patterns and behaviors so that you can live a more fulfilled life, one that doesn’t carry the weight of the “stuff” you may have accumulated over time. This change in perception is what is called metta meditation. And while metta meditation can be a very easy practice, for those who have been carrying a lot of “stuff” in their lives, the process can be a bit more difficult.
So what is practicing mindfulness about if you’ve been carrying an attitude of detachment or dwelling on things that you don’t need? It’s the ability to shift your attitude so that you’re no longer afraid of living in the present. When we say “present”, it simply refers to all of the things happening right now. If you are carrying an attitude of clinging to the past or the future, it’s likely that attachment style of thinking will affect your current happiness. However, by changing your attitude to observing the present, you’ll shift into an attitude of happiness towards all aspects of your life.
Practicing mindfulness also involves extra attention and effort when you are doing anything. For example, it is much easier to be more mindful of your breathing when you are breathing deeply, rather than thinking about what you should have to do next. People who practice mindfulness have said that they are more able to focus on other things, because their body feels more relaxed and free. When your body feels free and supported, it means that you can give extra attention to things that you want to focus on, like focusing on your breathing to reduce stress.
Finally, many people say that they were able to make more money because they use mindfulness to become more efficient. By practicing mindfulness regularly, many people find that they are more organized and focused, and are able to get more done. Since being more efficient is a great way to save time and money, many people are motivated to take this opportunity to improve themselves. Mindfully switching from being distracted to being focused and on task can pay off, in many ways.