WTF Is Mindfulness, Actually?

Apparently it’s the secret to being happier, calmer, and just generally more awesome.

You’ve probably heard of something called ~mindfulness~.

You’ve probably heard of something called ~mindfulness~.

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You might even have a few questions about it.

You might even have a few questions about it.

Like, what is it? Should you be doing it? Is it really just another name for meditation? And is it actually worth squeezing into your already busy schedule?

To answer these questions, BuzzFeed Health spoke to psychologists Bonnie Marks, PsyD, from NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation, and Andrea Bonior, PhD, author of Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World. Here’s what they had to say.

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In the simplest sense, mindfulness is about being present and accepting your thoughts and feelings.

In the simplest sense, mindfulness is about being present and accepting your thoughts and feelings.

Stress has a way of taking up too much space in our heads, lingering after a bad commute and building up the more we think about all the stuff we need to get done.

Mindfulness works to counteract our daily stress. It helps you focus your attention in the “right now,” so that you're not worrying about what's already happened or what might happen next, Marks says. To really make the most of the present moment, sometimes you need to take a second to fully recognize it, she says.

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The first step to being mindful is being aware of the here and now.

The first step to being mindful is being aware of the here and now.

That means taking stock of not only your surroundings but how you fit into them. You want to engage all of your senses, Bonior says.

What do you see? How does the air smell? Are you breathing calmly? Are any of your muscles tense? What’s the temperature and how does the breeze (if there is any) feel on your skin? By checking off this imaginary list, you’ll immerse yourself more fully in your environment and have a stronger sense of how your body feels in it, Marks says.

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