When I was first diagnosed with major anxiety disorder and depression, I sought help. In addition to normal treatment, I also underwent therapy. As my therapy sessions progressed, mindfulness was presented as one of the most effective techniques for helping someone cope with daily challenges while remaining calm. Just like me, countless people today suffer from normal or chronic mental health issues. As our minds juggle between past problems and future worries, we lose sight of the fact that what we have is only the present moment. Mindfulness is a practice that requires you to perform techniques that bring your attention fully back to the present. Once we have perfected the skill of silencing and understanding our inner chatter, the outside world automatically changes. It is a tool to help us face difficult times in life with love and compassion.
However, we live in an age of unlimited knowledge and beliefs that have clouded our thinking, making us give in to myths about mindfulness with all the limited knowledge we have. Between distractions, people find it harder to practice mindfulness. Don’t worry, we’re here to help!
Health Shots reached out to Sabrina Merchant, internationally certified expert in yoga and mindfulness for children 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 judgment or distraction. It’s about observing our thoughts, emotions and sensations as they arise, recognizing them without getting entangled and gently bringing our attention back to the present. Through mindfulness, we cultivate a deeper awareness of ourselves and the world around us. It is not about emptying the mind, but about accepting the richness of each experience, whether pleasant or stimulating. With practice, mindfulness can improve our clarity of thought, emotional resilience and overall well-being, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life,” explains our expert.
Read also : 4 Simple Mindfulness Practices to Stay Calm and Reduce Stress
Common Myths About Mindfulness
It’s time to puncture the bubble and tackle some common myths and misconceptions about mindfulness.
Myth 1: Mindfulness is all about relaxation
Do: Although 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 emptying your mind of all thoughts
Do: Mindfulness is not about emptying the mind of thoughts. Instead, it encourages observing thoughts as they arise without getting tangled in them. The goal is to develop a more balanced and less reactive relationship with our thoughts.
Myth 3: Mindfulness is all about focusing inward
Do: 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.
Also read: Children sleep better thanks to mindfulness training, study finds
Myth 4: You need to meditate for hours to reap the benefits of mindfulness
Do: Even short moments of mindfulness throughout the day can be beneficial. Formal meditation sessions can last from a few minutes to longer periods. But the key is consistency. Consistent practice, regardless of duration, can lead to positive effects.
Myth 5: Mindfulness is only for managing stress and anxiety
Do: Although mindfulness is effective for reducing stress, it offers many benefits beyond that. It can improve emotional regulation, improve focus and attention, increase self-awareness, and promote overall well-being.
Myth 6: You need to sit cross-legged to practice mindfulness
Do: Although seated meditation is a common way to practice mindfulness, it can be practiced in a variety of postures: sitting, standing, walking, or even lying down. The key is to stay aware of your current experience.
Remember that mindfulness can be a personal experience and its effects may vary from person to person. It’s just important to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to explore its potential benefits.