For those who have never practised mindfulness, it can seem a little abstract. And when people don’t understand something completely, they make assumptions. Over time, these assumptions turn into myths and misconceptions.
Mindfulness too has its own share of mistaken beliefs, which surprisingly are more common than one would imagine. To help you navigate your journey to mindfulness, we are debunking five common myths associated with the subject:
1. Mindfulness is just meditation
People often make the mistake of interchanging mindfulness with meditation. This is a common misconception, when in fact, mindfulness is only one of the many forms of meditation. Sometimes we need to disconnect, clear our minds, and let tranquillity into our minds – on those occasions, we sit and meditate. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is about connecting with our surroundings and completely immersing ourselves in the present. This could involve something as simple as listening to the birds on your morning walk or taking the time to eat in peace without any distractions.
2. Mindfulness can only be practised in a quiet space
Quiet places can help in practising mindfulness when one is only starting out on that journey. However, learning to practise mindfulness in the midst of the noise and bustle of your daily life is a more beneficial and long-lasting approach to it. For instance, making a pot of tea, watching the water boil, seeing the tea leaves steeping, noticing how the milk mixes in to make that perfect cup – all these little moments in an otherwise busy environment are moments of mindfulness.
3. Mindfulness is only good for one’s mental health
Of course, mindfulness is great for your mental health! But it goes beyond that. Research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School revealed that an eight-week mindfulness program increased the amount of grey matter in the participants’ brains. Another review study carried out at the University of British Columbia revealed that eight different areas of the brain could potentially be boosted by mindfulness! What’s more, mindfulness has also shown benefits while dealing with issues like chronic pain.
4. Mindfulness is a passive activity
Mindfulness is not a passive activity at all. It’s not like listening to music while you do your house chores.It requires active practice to make a conscious effort of noticing your thoughts, feelings, sensations and/or perceptions. It’s a continuous discipline that takes active participation, training and practice on your part, but the rewards are well worth your time and effort.
5. Mindfulness means clearing your mind
This one is important! Mindfulness is not about zoning out of your thoughts or stopping them from popping into your head. It is instead, a form of mental training that allows you to become more self-aware. So instead of avoiding distractions, mindfulness urges people to recognize distracting stimuli, and redirect their focus to come back to the task at hand. At no point will mindfulness need you to clear your mind; it is a disciplined practice that simply lets you become aware of how your mind works, and tweak some behaviours based on that information.
What is important to remember is that mindfulness is a tool, and you cannot use a tool without having some knowledge about it. Just like you wouldn’t use an electric drill without knowing how to, because it could be dangerous. Similarly, you cannot practise mindfulness without knowing its meaning and its basic tenets. When practised in the right way, with the right mindset, and after understanding what it means to be truly present in a moment, mindfulness has the power to become the source of productivity, creativity, and inspiration.
Mindfulness encourages you to stay in the present moment rather than staying in the shadow of the past, or worrying about the outcome of the future, and allows individuals the capacity to manage negative thought patterns and often turn even the most difficult obstacles into opportunities for personal growth. It can equip you with the skills and temperament to hone your concentration on your emotions, thoughts, environment, feelings, sights, sounds, and sensations.
It’s not surprising then that people are turning to the ancient Buddhist philosophy of Mindfulness which first emerged nearly 2500 years ago. Today, in the chaos of everyday life, mindfulness can offer an oasis of calmness and serenity to centre your life-force, and find peace of mind.