What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious of something.  It is also defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them, without giving thought to a right or wrong way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we are sensing in the present moment rather than concentrating on or rehashing the past or imagining the future.

It has its roots in Buddhist meditation yet has entered the American mainstream in recent years.  Many studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general, while inspiring programs in schools, hospitals, prisons, veterans centers and more.

As most of our lives run on autopilot, we often have wandering minds and are not present in our own lives.  It is so easy to lose ourselves in this autopilot state for most of the day, and every day.  Thus, we fail to realize the beauty surrounding us, we don’t listen to warning signs from our own bodies, and we are stuck in our constant state of action in life that we are just getting stuff done and not really living.  Mindfulness is taking our lives back, taking a big step back and counting our blessings and the beautiful parts of our life that we fail to see as we are running to the next activity.

Being engaged in the present moment is a hard task to achieve.  Many of us who enjoy yoga have attempted this for the brief time of our class and our meditation in a calm setting.  Besides yoga and meditation we can extend mindfulness into the rest of our life.  Seeing everything with full awareness every day can lead to a more peaceful existence.

As  I continue on my wellness journey, I think of mindfulness and how hard it is for me to concentrate on a moment in time without drifting in many different directions.  I have practiced mindfulness in my yoga and Pilates classes.  I am now striving to add more mindfulness to my daily life, just one moment at a time.  When you watch your daughter dance in a recital, don’t recall the shopping list you want to remember, but rather embrace the beauty of that moment as it will soon be gone and just a memory.  It is difficult to get out of autopilot so let’s try it one moment at a time…….