Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts: Why Mindfulness practice is essential for your well-being.

“Our mind wanders 20% of the time while reading a book.”

– Daniel Goldman

Every day, we are inundated by distractions – our phones, tablets, TV, and so on. We are hammered by the never-ending dialogue and negativity of the mind. Our mind wanders, and we spiral into the wild thoughts of the past. Even while reading a book, our mind wanders 20% of the time. The ability to focus on one thing at a time, for an extended period, now becomes a skill. And it requires practice.
What is Mindfulness?
For me, being mindful simply means:
“Being right here, right now.”
But for Jon Kabat-Zinn, it becomes a little more complex. Jon is the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He developed the center’s renowned Stress Reduction Clinic and taught the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), an eight-week course, to over 200 medical centers and clinics worldwide. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in 1971 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He defined Mindfulness as:

“The awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non- judgmentally, as if your life depended on it.”
                                                                                     – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Being Mindful means, paying attention “On purpose”. It requires a conscious direction of our awareness. We purposefully direct our awareness away from the negative thoughts and shift it towards the “anchor” or the present moment. When our mind wanders, we bring our attention back to our breath or body on purpose. Don’t resist your mind’s natural urge to wander, but train it to return to the present. It also means paying attention “In the present moment.” It’s noticing what’s going on in our thoughts, emotions, and bodies right here right now. Moreover, it means paying attention “Non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness is an emotionally non-reactive state. It involves acceptance. We pay attention to our feelings and thoughts without judging them—without believing, that there’s a “pleasant” or a “painful” experience to feel at a given moment. We accept whatever arises. We don’t react. We don’t make judgments. We notice them and let them go.
In a nutshell, Mindfulness is the awareness that arises in the present moment. It is cultivated by paying attention to your breath and body on purpose, and without judgment.
The Mindfulness Practice:
mindfulness chart
Typically, when something happens, you automatically react. You demonstrate an immediate unthinking emotional reaction to the situation. You don’t stop to process. You don’t think anymore. You don’t think about what you are going to do, how to respond, or what quality of presence you are going to bring to that interaction. This gesture is where the term, “Knee jerk reaction” came from. You move from reaction straight to response. This action can sometimes be dangerous.
With Mindfulness, you cultivate the ability to pause for a moment, breathe deep, inject mindfulness after the stimulus, and then respond. Often, the gesture will result in a more harmonious interaction. There is more “Equanimity” — stillness and balance of mind.
The Mindfulness Benefits
Mindfulness enhances emotional intelligence, increases overall feelings of well-being (happiness, focus, attention, and academic achievement).
It also delivers these measurable benefits:
Reduced stress
Less depression and anxiety
Lower blood pressure
Improved memory
Have you tried doing any form of meditation? How was your experience? Did you gain any benefit from the practice? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.