Why Mindfulness is Important

I have found mindfulness to be important especially when dealing with stress. Stress is a total mind/body response to a perceived threat. The human being responds to stress in a number of ways including becoming ill and psychosomatic disorders. Ultimately, both our personal and professional lives can be negatively affected by stress.

Mindfulness enables us to become present in the moment, and clear our minds. In this state, one then has choices available as to how to handle a particular situation. For example, consider the following scenario:

A teacher returns a term paper to a student. The mark is much lower than the student anticipated. Suddenly, the student is crippled by thoughts of angry parents, low report card grades and not being accepted into university. Feeling like a complete failure, the student is unable to focus for the rest of the day, and skips classes.

 Understandably, such a situation can cause stress. However, the response to stressful triggers can be vastly different between individuals. Rather than becoming paralyzed by thoughts of self-doubt, a mindful approach to the same scenario could play out as follows:

A teacher returns a term paper to a student. The mark is much lower than the student anticipated. Recognizing feelings of disappointment, the student takes a moment to focus on his breath and tries to calm himself. After a few moments, the student is able to review the test, and identify problem areas. The student then thinks through a strategy to address the low grade. Immediately after class, the student discusses the test result with the teacher, and arranges for extra coaching. Feeling relieved, the student then moves on to the next class.

 Think about the opportunities for applying mindfulness in daily life. For example, how might the practice of mindfulness help you in the following scenarios?

  • Preparing for a major presentation at work
  • Discussing a sensitive topic with your spouse / partner
  • Awaiting test results from a physician
  • Feeling rushed each day, and feeling out of control