Mindfulness – What’s it all about?


Today I’d like to talk to you about mindfulness and the benefits of practising it. First off, you might be asking what exactly is mindfulness. You may have heard the term being thrown around but never fully understood what people meant by it. You may have a fair idea of what it is. You may have never heard the term before. Either way, sit back and all shall be revealed.

According to Google, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It’s that simple, being mindful literally means being aware of your surrounding environment and, some would say more importantly, being aware of your own condition. Until we actively practise mindfulness, we don’t even realise that we are being mindless. It’s only when we consciously take the time to think about how we feel, that we realise how long it’s been since we last took the time out to just sit back and do nothing.

The fast paced society that we live in is great at keeping us busy. We are forever rushing about the place, always connected, always entertaining ourselves in some way, shape or form. I look around me when I’m on the bus in the morning and (I think you know where this is going!) even though I am surrounded by people who are just sitting, that’s not all they’re doing, God no! It’s a rare occurrence these days to see somebody sitting on a bus and ‘doing nothing’. Doing nothing, think about that for a second, when was the last time you sat down and ‘did nothing’? I bet you didn’t think that question would be so hard to answer!

When we take the time to stop scrolling down our newsfeed and just sit back and let our minds wander, we are actually really benefiting ourselves. The benefits of being mindful are really something else altogether! Here’s a quick run through of some of them.

Improved Well-being

Being mindful allows you to fully embrace life as it’s presented to you. When you are fully present, you are better able to enjoy the pleasures in life as they occur, you can better engage with the activities you take part in and you are better prepared to deal with any adverse events that may occur throughout your day. Mindful people are less likely to get caught up in worries about the past or anxieties about the future, they are less preoccupied with concerns about self-esteem or ego and they are better able to form deep connections with the people they meet as they go about their day.

Improved Physical Health

The physical benefits of mindfulness include, but are not limited to relieving stress, reducing chronic pain, lowering blood pressure, treating heart disease and most importantly in my case, improved sleep.

Improved Mental Health

This is probably the most profound area of benefit associated with mindfulness. Over the last decade or so, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation to aid in the treatment of a large number of mental health problems including; depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and even obsessive-compulsive disorder. It makes a lot of sense for mindfulness meditation to be of benefit in these cases as psychotherapy (especially cognitive behavioural therapy) is about helping the patient become aware of their irrational, self-harming, negative thoughts, i.e. being more mindful of their thoughts.


Okay, so now that I’ve told you all about the benefits of being mindful, I’m sure you’re thinking ‘Great, but how do I do it?’ Well I’m glad you asked! I’ve found that the best way to improve mindfulness is through mindful meditation. I’ll be writing an article in the next week or so talking about my experiences with meditation and how I’ve benefited from it but in the mean time, there are many many ways of being more mindful in your day-to-day life.


I never used to have very much time in the mornings to get a proper breakfast into me so I often just grabbed a piece of fruit or a slice of toast to munch on while walking to the bus stop. That was fine and all, but now that I’ve begun to get up much earlier, I have the time to prepare myself a nice plate of scrambled eggs and sit and enjoy my food in the morning. And here’s where the mindfulness comes in. I don’t sit there with my phone out, scrolling through the newsfeed. I don’t think about what I’m going to be doing later neither. I just live in the moment, I take my time and consciously think about every bite, noticing my hunger fading and my body feeling more and more nourished. This may seem a bit weird or out of the ordinary, but the act of being mindful is a skill in itself and by practising it while eating breakfast, I’m enabling myself to be more mindful in situations when it really matters.

Working with Focus

This is one that I’m currently working on improving myself (with the help of StayFocusd) and I’m already noticing substantial differences in my productivity levels. It’s simple, pick a task and do it. Don’t do anything else until it’s done! I mean it, no tabbing out to ‘check Facebook’. No flicking over to YouTube to pick another song to listen to while you work (if you must listen to music like you work, set a playlist going and leave it!). When you mix work and leisure simultaneously, you never really finish either one. Stop thinking about how many likes your latest status update might have and just do the work. Facebook will still be there when you finish your work and since you’ve been away from it for awhile, there may actually be something interesting for you to check out when you do finish the work! When you set your mind on one task and focus solely on that, you are improving your mindfulness and getting important shit done at the same time! What is there to lose?

Reading a Book

You might be thinking that I sound a bit old fashioned by telling you to read a book but the benefits of this in terms of mindfulness are incredible. In today’s fast moving society, we consume so much information but it is all in small portions. Our attention spans are getting smaller and smaller thanks to technology (from 12 to 5 minutes in the last 10 years), meaning we have less focus than the past generations. Sitting back and reading a book requires that you focus your undivided attention on one thing for an extended period of time, so go do it! It’s not that bad, I swear! You may find that you actually enjoy using your imagination instead of consuming video content.

In conclusion, I’d like to note that mindfulness isn’t so much an activity that we have to make time for. Instead, I’d like you to think of it as a way of being. It’s a way of going about everything else that we do in life, just with a little more presence. You may find it difficult at first to focus on your thoughts and feelings but I implore you to resist the urge to dive for your phone next time you’re sitting on a bus. Just sit and think about how you feel. Let the thoughts flow through you, acknowledge them but don’t go off on a tangent acting out scenarios of the future in your head. Be aware of the thought, let it pass and return to being aware of how your body and mind feel! When you are truly present in the moment, that is when you are really living!

Procrastination is a Sucker


I suffer with a chronic lack of motivation. I know I am not alone in this too. I don’t know for sure if it’s worse now than it was for previous generations but I think it’s safe to say that when I feel like doing something other than what I’m obliged to do, there are way more avenues in which I can sate my appetite for mindless entertainment than there would have been even 20 years ago. I know I am not the only one who sits down in front of a computer screen with the intention of doing something productive only to come out the other side of 4 hours and have nothing to show for it. Well sure I may have found a few new songs to play out at gigs, maybe read an interesting story or two on Reddit and giggled to myself over a couple of stupid pictures but I haven’t done the thing I originally set out to do.

Instead of ranting about all of the distractions and how bad they are, I want to ask why do I get so easily distracted. I can’t place the blame anywhere but on myself for my lack of focus, even when I know that I need to do something. Why do I have such a fear of starting important things (assignments, e-mails etc..)? I think it comes down to a fear of being wrong. I can only speak for myself here, but I think we all have a grand idea of ourselves in our own mind. We are confident in our abilities and skills, we don’t need to validate that to anybody, particularly to ourselves. “I know I’m a good programmer, I don’t need to prove that to myself by actually writing some code.” is a thought that has run through my mind subconsciously too many times.

But the thing is, I was lying to myself. I know I’m not perfect and that I make mistakes, everybody does! But it’s only through trying that we can ever fail, do you see? By not starting a particular assignment, I still had the potential to create a perfect assignment hence the image I held of myself as a perfect individual could remain intact. Instant gratification prevails! That is until I’ve left it too late to make a decent attempt at an assignment,  neglected to educate myself properly on the contents of it and then had to work my arse off trying to come up with something half-decent in a very short time span! The image of perfection crumbled as I frantically tried to teach myself what needed to be done.

In order to remedy something as commonplace as procrastination, we have to understand why it happens, finding the root source of the problem and address that instead. I think the fear of making mistakes is that root. And in order to overcome that fear, I want you to think of this; making mistakes is the sign of learning, if you don’t ever make any mistakes, that doesn’t make you perfect, that just means you’ve never tried anything hard. If that still isn’t enough to change your mentality, here’s a quote from a lecturer of mine.

“When you hear the voice in your head telling you that you don’t feel like doing work, take a step back and look at your self. Say ‘So what if you don’t feel like doing it? That doesn’t mean you can’t do it.'”

– Damian Gordon, Lecturer at DIT

This is something that a lot of people don’t realise. We may not feel like writing that important e-mail but really does that even matter? Just because we feel a certain way doesn’t mean we are immobilized by that feeling. I don’t feel like getting out of bed at half 7 in the morning yet I do it anyway. I’ve begun to take on this mentality of ‘So-what’ recently and I implore you all to do the same. I’ve found that the thought of doing work is much worse than actually doing it and if we don’t let ourselves be consumed by procrastination, we can do an awful lot more than we think is possible!

Happiness & How to Avoid Avoiding It

Live in the moment, this one right here!

I have found through my own experiences, that I am only truly happy when I am fully present in any given situation. If I don’t engage with my surroundings and what’s going on around me, I am not living in the moment, I am not taking part in the life that has been given to me. It’s foolish of us to do anything but live in the present moment, yet I constantly find myself replaying past experiences or dreaming about how great the future is going to be. It’s only natural that these thoughts come into our minds but we shouldn’t let them become a significant part of our lives.

When I think back on my own memories, I can smile in remembering past experiences and that’s OK. But when I start comparing my current situation to one that I’ve found myself in before, I get disheartened. How unfair it is that my life’s not as great as it once was. I wish my life was the way it used to be.

Do you see where that line of thinking gets you? I’ll tell you where.. nowhere. If you spend all of your time reminiscing on past experiences, how will you ever have any more experiences to add to that collection? You won’t. If I think back to my fondest memories, they were times when I was fully present. I didn’t have a care in the world, I was living in the moment.

If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

-Lao Tzu

Some people might say that you have to think about the future and they are correct to a certain extent. I think of it differently though. Instead of thinking of the future and how we want it to be, think about what you can do now (in the present) to move in the direction you want to go with your life. If you want something as straight forward as being rich, think about what you can do right now to ensure future prosperity. But sitting pretty and dreaming about all the nice things you will be able to do once the future arrives is a hopeless endeavour. If anything, it will lead to future unhappiness when you realize that you haven’t lived up to your imagined view of yourself.

All in all, true happiness isn’t something that we can buy. True happiness comes from within. Once your mind is at peace with the way of the world, you are free to embrace life for what it really is. We are the universe experiencing itself, we have every right to be happy about that.