Mindfulness is defined as “being aware of the present moment, without judgment or worry for the past or the future”. It allows you to be more aware of your emotions without being caught up in them – to gain self-understanding without judgment.
According to Practical Mindfulness by Mike Annesley, being mindful makes you less affected by past thoughts or negative emotions. Mindfulness focuses on being in conscious control of your reaction to your present situation rather than being on “autopilot” – where you react out of habit and relive the past instead of noticing the fresh emotions or potential in the present. This includes being stuck in the past – regretting and being imprisoned in guilt and shame – or being anxious about the future.
Here’s an exercise from Practical Mindfulness that beginners in mindfulness can do:
1. Sit upright on a comfortable chair and close your eyes, keeping your body in a natural position with both feet flat on the floor.
2. Allow your body to relax and mind to become calm.
3. Focus on each in-breath and out-breath. Don’t try to breathe deeply but do so naturally.
4. If your mind wanders, bring your focus gently back to your breathing.
5. After 5 minutes of mindful breathing, open your eyes and take in your surroundings again.
Mindfulness meditation is not just about being relaxed, but rather a set of mental exercises that allows you to purposefully focus your attention so as to “observe” stray thoughts and emotions that flutter through. For instance, it could be a casual comment that someone made about you or an anxious thought related to deep-seated issues in your life. When such a thought enters your mind during meditation, refocus on your breathing so that you can regard that negative thought as it is – a thought, not a fact. “You are you. Not your thoughts about yourself.” To find out more about mindfulness meditation and the related exercises – you may want to have a look at the following books.
Text: Tan Yun Xian
Call no.: 158.1 ANN
All rights reserved. Dorling Kindersley, 2015.
Mindfulness to Go: How to Meditate While You’re on the Move
Call no.: 158.12 HAR
All rights reserved. New Harbinger Publications, 2011.
Mindfulness for Life: A Six-Week Guide to Inner Peace
Call no.: 158.12 DOY
All rights reserved. Orion, 2015.
Mindfulness Made Simple: An Introduction to Finding Calm through Mindfulness & Meditation
Call no.: 158.128 MIN
All rights reserved. Berkeley, Calif.: Calistoga Press, 2014
This article is first published on Time of Your Life: Good Reads for the 50plus magazine, published by the National Library Board (NLB). Read the magazine here.
Availability of book titles can be found by using the NLB’s catalogue at http://catalogue.nlb.gov.sg/.