What is Mindfulness Anyways, and Why is Everyone Trying It?
Chicago Compass Counseling Blog
August 1, 2017In pop culture, Mindfulness is often pictured as a healthy young woman, fresh from her latest spin class, and drinking a green juice to cleanse her from any toxins. So mindfulness is meant to make us happier and feel stress-free, right? Unfortunately, wrong. While relaxation and a decrease in stress is often the byproduct of a consistent mindfulness practice, the ultimate goal of mindfulness is to connect with the present moment in a non-judgmental way.
So if the goal of mindfulness isn't to make us happier, then why do it? Let's think about it in terms of two emotions that cause us extreme distress: anxiety & depression. Anxiety is generally manifested by thinking about what we did in the past that may not align with our values, or worry for what is to come in the future. Depression is often rooted in thoughts about difficult times in our past, or hopelessness for our future. When we practice mindfulness we are intentionally connecting with the present moment, which decreases the amount of mental energy we are spending on things outside of our control: the past and the future.
You can start out practicing mindfulness in small ways throughout your day. For example, the next time you brush your teeth, try to engage all five senses in the experience. When you notice your thoughts drifting to that meeting you have the next morning, or whether you sent that email you drafted at work earlier in the day, gently bring your attention back to the experience of the present moment.