What is mindfulness? “Live in the moment” is a popular phrase these days. Mindfulness has been a trendy word for the last few years and stimulated great scholarly interest. Mindfulness is found to be an important ingredient for healthy functioning. Let’s analyze what mindfulness is? What are its causes and consequences?
According to psychologist Professor kabat Zinn, Mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. Mindfulness has two vital components:
Attention pertains to the attentiveness to thoughts, emotions, behavior, experience and environment. It is a conscious and purposeful effort to focus and attentive to current state of mind encompassing thoughts, emotions and context.
Awareness pertains to the awareness of thoughts, emotions, behavior, experience and environment. It is a conscious and purposeful effort to be aware of one’s mental state including thoughts, emotions and context.
Mindfulness: Eastern and Western perspectives
Eastern perspective of mindfulness is rooted in the Buddhist traditions. It put more emphasis on the attention to internal stimuli such as thoughts, feelings and processes of mind rather than the external stimuli such as environment and context.
Western perspective of mindfulness has the same core components of attention and awareness but it put greater focus on the external stimuli like environment and context. It encourages drawing novel distinctions which develop awareness about the context and perspective of our actions.
Mindfulness: Trait or State
Mindfulness can both be a trait and a state. Trait mindfulness is the natural ability to be mindful in different situations without training or practice. Whereas, state mindfulness is the accomplishment of present moment attention and awareness through training and practice. State mindfulness can be understood as a skill which could be learned.
Mindfulness can be inculcate in individuals through meditation. There are different meditation techniques which are used to train individuals to be more mindful, such as, mindfulness based stress reduction and mindfulness based cognitive therapy.
Personality traits of conscientiousness and positive affectivity are also found to be positively associated with mindfulness.
Mindfulness has a positive effect on the individuals’ physical health. It has been found to be effective in the treatment of various conditions like chronic pain, heart diseases and cancer. Mindfulness also helps improving psychological well-being of individuals’ by reducing levels of stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion and burnout. Mindfulness has also been found to be positively associated with self-esteem, optimism and life satisfaction. Mindfulness positively affect interpersonal relationship as well. It has been found to be related with relationship satisfaction, relationship communication and relationship well-being. Mindfulness is beneficial in improving cognitive capacity and cognitive flexibility. It is also positively related with emotional regulation, emotional awareness and emotional intelligence. Mindfulness positively affect job attitudes and behaviors by improving employees’ well-being and reducing job stress. It positively affects job performance, job satisfaction, work engagement and work life balance, and negatively affects turnover intention and burnout.