Mindfulness is a recent buzzword meaning sustaining a state of living in the moment and being fully present and aware. However, the concept is an ancient one, rooted in the disciplines of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. This ancient Indian “Science of Life” addresses the entire person, and thus encompasses physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Mindfulness in Ayurveda
Ayurveda treats ill health with prescriptions for herbal cold remedies, meditative chants (or mantras) and specific yogic postures (or asanas). In contrast to western medicine it also addresses good health with recipes for wellness, including the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a fundamental wellness practice that everyone can apply to improve their individual wellbeing and quality of life. In Western civilization, society has encouraged us to perform many functions on autopilot like robots running a computer program, like brushing our teeth or driving to work. However, Eastern healing involves being able to turn off those programs and own our minds and bodies. You can still brush your teeth quickly, but instead of being zoned out or worrying about a morning presentation, you experience being in your body, feel the bristles on your gums and the freshness of your breath.
The advantages of slowing down, monitoring your thoughts and sensing your body have been scientifically quantified in numerous studies. Slowing down promotes relaxation, decreases stress and anxiety, and stabilizes vital signs. Moreover, it improves overall quality of life.
How to Practice Mindfulness
This practice can start with something as simple as deep breathing exercises (or pranayama) for a few minutes every morning. It can also include stretching and flexing individual muscle groups as one awakens and gets out of bed in the morning. This helps one learn to shut down inner background chatter, feel centered, and just BE.
Mindfulness also includes acknowledging ones connection to ones environment and to nature. This involves simple practices, such as grounding. Grounding is the physical contact of ones bare feet with the earth or grass for even a few minutes a day. This helps to maintain a feeling of being rooted and in balance. Mindfulness helps one to feel an important part of the greater whole. It keeps one from feeling insignificant or isolated or without purpose.
The practice of mindfulness creates an awakening of ones senses and an awareness of ones self, ultimately causing one to live in the present moment and experience it fully. This presence of mind provides a clarity that allows one to focus mental energy productively. So, go on, start with a few minutes a day, and this practice will filter into other areas of your life, resulting in a healthier, more fulfilling existence.