When I was first diagnosed with major anxiety disorder and depression, I clamoured for help. Apart from the normal course of treatment, I was also put on therapy. As I proceeded in my therapy sessions, mindfulness was introduced as one of the most effective techniques to help someone cope with daily surfacing challenges whilst staying calm. Just like me, countless people suffer from normal to chronic mental health issues in today’s times. With our mind juggling between past issues or future worries, we lose sight of the fact that what we have is just the present moment. Mindfulness is a practice that requires you to execute techniques that bring your attention fully back to the present. Once, we hone the skill of silencing and understanding our inner chatter, the world outside automatically changes. It is a tool to help us face the rough times of life with love and compassion.
However, we live in an era of unlimited knowledge and beliefs that have fogged our thinking, making us give in to myths about mindfulness with all the limited knowledge we have. In between distractions, people find it tougher to practice mindfulness. Fret not, we are here to help!
Health Shots got in touch with Sabrina Merchant, Internationally Certified Kids Yoga and Mindfulness Expert, and Founder of Li’l Yogis, Mumbai, to bust some common myths about mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is the art of being fully present in the moment, without judgement or distraction. It’s about observing our thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they arise, acknowledging them without getting entangled, and gently guiding our focus back to the present. Through mindfulness, we cultivate a deeper awareness of ourselves and the world around us. It’s not about emptying the mind, but about embracing the richness of each experience, whether pleasant or challenging. With practice, mindfulness can enhance our clarity of thought, emotional resilience, and overall well-being, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life,” says our expert.
Common myths about mindfulness
It’s time to prick the bubble and address some common myths and misconceptions about mindfulness.
Myth 1: Mindfulness is all about relaxation
Fact: While relaxation can be a byproduct of mindfulness, its primary goal is to increase awareness and attention to the present moment without judgment. It’s about cultivating a non-reactive awareness of our experiences, which can include both pleasant and unpleasant sensations.
Myth 2: Mindfulness means clearing your mind of all thoughts
Fact: Mindfulness doesn’t aim to empty the mind of thoughts. Instead, it encourages observing thoughts as they arise without getting entangled in them. The goal is to develop a more balanced and less reactive relationship with our thoughts.
Myth 3: Mindfulness is only about focusing inward
Fact: Mindfulness also involves cultivating awareness of the external environment and our interactions with it. It’s about being present in our daily activities and relationships, not just during meditation.
Myth 4: You must meditate for hours to experience benefits of mindfulness
Fact: Even short moments of mindfulness throughout the day can be beneficial. Formal meditation sessions can range from a few minutes to longer periods. But the key is regularity. Consistent practice, regardless of the duration, can lead to positive effects.
Myth 5: Mindfulness is only for managing stress and anxiety
Fact: While mindfulness is effective for stress reduction, it offers a range of benefits beyond that. It can enhance emotional regulation, improve focus and attention, increase self-awareness, and promote overall well-being.
Myth 6: You have to sit cross-legged to practise mindfulness
Fact: While sitting meditation is a common way to practise mindfulness, it can be done in various postures – sitting, standing, walking, or even lying down. The key is maintaining awareness of your present experience.
Remember that mindfulness can be a personal experience, and its effects can vary from person to person. It is simply important to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to explore its potential benefits.