Mindfulness and happiness

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali term sati “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist Practice. The word sati derives from a root meaning “to remember”, but as a mental factor it signifies presence of mind and attentiveness to the present, rather than the faculty of memory regarding the past.

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly, whatever is happening in our lives. It is a full awareness of everything that arises within and around us from moment to moment. It is an awareness of everything we see, hear, feel and think. Mindfulness is unbiased. It can help us respond to pressures in life in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body. It helps us to observe and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. Mindfulness can be a wonderful tool to notice these destructive thoughts when they arise and prevent them from invading our minds further. You can’t make changes in the pattern of your life until you begin to see yourself exactly as you are now.

Mindfulness is often cultivated through mindfulness meditation, a practice characterized by compassionate, aware, and non-reactive engagement with immediate experience. Through mindful meditation you will be able to slow down mentally, emotionally and physically and give yourself space to focus on and develop your personal character strengths. Mindfulness is a profound way to enhance psychological and emotional resilience, and increase life satisfaction.

The first part of mindfulness meditation practice is often characterized by bringing our attention to our breathing. Breathing is something that we all do, all of the time – yet we are often not aware of how we breath. Because we are not aware of it we take it for granted. We incorrectly assume that our brain will regulate our breathing process for us into some sort of harmony. The myriad of experiences can have a profound toll on our emotional lives and importantly on our breathing process. Making the change from an unconscious breather to a mindful conscious breather may well be the single most important change you can make in your life, simply because it affects everything you do.

The breath is the bridge between our body and mind connection. By bringing our focus intentionally onto the breath we can ground ourselves in the present moment. We can practice observing without reacting, simply watching each breath as it happens without feeling a need to change it.

By focusing on the breath you become aware of the mind’s tendency to jump from one thing to another. The simple discipline of concentration brings us back to the present moment and all the richness of experience that it contains. It is a way to develop mindfulness, the faculty of alert and sensitive awareness.