What does it mean to be mindful? Practicing yoga? Taking long walks in the woods? Definitions of mindfulness vary, but its positive effects on attitude, attention and general mental health are pretty constant. The term was developed in the 1970s by the biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn, but the act it describes, that is, “paying attention on purpose” has been around for millennia, adapted in large part from Buddhist meditation traditions. Mindfulness is a way of thinking more carefully and concertedly about the routine activities of daily life, thereby maintaining mental presence in the moment.
Is practicing mindfulness already part of your daily routine? Studies show that you’re likely better for it. The Atlantic asserts that being mindful “improves attention, reduces stress, and results in better emotional regulation and an improved capacity for compassion and empathy,” and evidence is growing in favor of the positive effects of this conceptually simple practice. It’s worth noting, however, that mindfulness, as simple as it may seem, is usually not a default state of mind. It takes most a little training to be able to capitalize on the various benefits of being mindful. Check out the article below to read about the ways mindfulness training is being incorporated into classrooms, and for ideas on how to bring mindful practices into your life here at Bowdoin!