On and off, I have been meditating or practicing mindfulness for a few years now.

When I say meditating I mean that I spend 10-20 minutes every 2-3 days sitting in an upright position, or lying down, trying to focus on my breath.

I usually do this by following the prompts of some apps.

I started with Calm, then more recently I moved to Balanced.

I have always heard that meditation and mindfulness are good for you.

Successful people regularly meditate: it helps them being less reactive and more mindful.

What is being mindful then?

Recently, I have not meditated much and yet, I feel more mindful than ever, which brought me to ask myself what is being mindful?

To me, being mindful is first of all not being reactive and considering alternatives.

If somebody does something that irritates or annoys us, our first, instinctive response is to react, generally in a negative way.

This could lead to unpleasant arguments with our spouse, parents, friends, etc.

The alternative to this is to consider other options. For example, we could start with getting curious about why somebody said or did that.

What was their intention? What was their reason for saying or doing that?

Regardless of their motive, we could simply decide to be mindful and choose a more positive reaction or even not reacting at all.

This could be difficult the first few times, but it would pay off very well in terms of lowered levels of stress and more understanding and empathy.

Being mindful to me is also noticing.

Mindfully noticing or doing something is the opposite of mindlessly doing something without thinking about what we are doing.

It’s focusing on the details of a newspaper article rather than scanning through.

It’s noticing the tiny difference in how we feel, body and mind, day in day out.

It’s noticing the change in the tone of voice of our partner, the unspoken signs, the gradual changes in the temperature throughout the day.

It’s consciously noticing something, after putting some thought into it, and changing your behavior accordingly.

What I am trying to say here is that while meditating, taking 10-20 minutes off your schedule to focus on your breathing, is a great way of bringing down your level of stress, being mindful is something you do regularly throughout the day.

You can be mindful by deciding not to react.

You can be mindful by noticing.

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