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What is Mindfulness?

The quality of mindfulness has the power to transform how you experience the world and how you interact with others.

If you've ever walked by a friend without recognizing them because your mind was lost in thought, you've experienced the downside of not living in a mindful state. You may also know that the lack of a focused mind has interfered with your personal relationships. Think about those moments you've been unable to answer a question because your mind drifted while someone was speaking to you. In order to fully embrace the art of mindful attention and avoid those uncomfortable situations, you first need a thorough understanding of what it means to control your mind in this manner.

Focus on the Present

When you achieve a mindful state, you're in an attentive state where all five senses are pointed to the present moment. While thoughts of the past and worries for the future may pass through your mind, you acknowledge them and let them go because you want to fully immerse yourself in whatever is happening around you right now.

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You can practice this as a form of meditation where you train your mind to focus on your immediate environment for a period of time, or you can push it further and try to live a more mindful, in-the-moment life in general. If you can open your mind to living in that manner, you'll find that you enjoy your life at a deeper level. You'll find that you hear what other people are saying to you more clearly, you see the small details that make the world so beautiful, and you make decisions with complete clarity because your mind isn't distracted.

Mindful vs. Aware

When you first try to achieve a mindful presence in daily life, you will start paying more attention to your surrounding environment. You will become more aware of everything around you, using all five senses to inhale the world in great detail. This awareness takes you closer to a controlled mind, but you have to push a little further to see that awareness isn't the same as mindfulness.

Awareness of your surroundings simply means that you know what's happening. You recognize that you're walking on grass or hear your child laughing across the room. You can enjoy that awareness without fully connecting your mind and focusing exclusively on those things. You may hear your child laughing and recognize that the television is on while your mind wanders to a problem at work or all the chores you need to do around the house before bed.

When you're mindful of the moment, you're more than aware. You're hyper focused to exclusion of all else. Consider it one level up from awareness.

Give It a Try

This isn't something that you'll slip right into if you've been multitasking and racing to keep up with the world for years, so start out with practiced mindful meditations. Start by setting the alarm on your phone so that you're reminded to stop wherever you are every three hours and focus on your immediate surroundings for at least five minutes. Over time, you'll find that mindfulness becomes more natural until you no longer need the alarm.

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