What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has become a buzzword that many throw around without fully understanding what it really means. However, mindfulness is not some elusive and airy-fairy concept. It has a practical purpose. Mindfulness is a way of life, and improving our mindfulness can help to make us more focused, grounded and effective contenders.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means bringing your full attention to the present moment. It is about giving your full attention to everything you do, without being distracted or preoccupied.
To be mindful also means to be fully conscious of your physical, emotional and mental state. When you are mindful, you are fully aware of everything around you, and you make clear, conscious decisions in every moment, instead of reacting mindlessly or habitually.
Mindlessness vs. Mindfulness in Everyday Life
We have all fallen prey to mindless behavior. You may find yourself spending hours just scrolling through social media pages, not even knowing what you are looking for. You may wolf down a bunch of junk food just because it was in front of you, even if you’re not hungry.
We all lose our focus occasionally. However, if left unchecked, this mindlessness can become a way of life, and soon we will find ourselves lost and detached from our goals. We will have no real control over our lives or ourselves. Mindlessness may seem like the easiest route at first, but it can leave us very frustrated and unfulfilled.
When we are mindful, we are proactive, focused and in control. We consciously make things happen instead of letting things happen, the way we do when we are reactive.
When things do not go our way, the reactive response will be to give up, complain, blame and wait for someone else to fix it.
For example, when we are not getting the results we want from our training, it is easy to give up or blame it on our coaching. A reactive person will merely complain and even quit.
A proactive person will address the issue head-on. The proactive approach will be to objectively assess what the problem is and what can be done. The proactive person will ask to talk to their coach privately and respectfully. They will then share their exact concerns and may even suggest ways to improve and monitor their progress. In short, a proactive person takes control of their situation and does not let their situations control them.
Going from reactive mindlessness to the more proactive mindfulness is just shifting from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat of our lives. Drivers have to pay attention!
Proven Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is more than just a great and helpful habit. Mindfulness offers many other benefits to our body and mind. Some of these include:
- Stress reduction
- Boosts to working memory
- Reduced obsessive and anxious thoughts
- Reduced emotional reactivity
- Enhanced self-insight, intuition and fear modulation
- Mindfulness develops all functions associated with the brain's middle prefrontal lobe area, the area which controls decision making and impulse control
- Increased immune functioning
Benefits of Mindfulness for Boxers
Boxing requires as much of your mental strength and ability as it does the physical. Boxers have to condition themselves to remain, calm, focused and quick-thinking. Developing mindfulness can help boxer to achieve these attributes and ultimately perform better in the ring.
Mindfulness can improve you boxing ability in more ways than you may realize. Some of these include:
- Stress reduction - Stress can impair our physical and emotional performance. Managing your stress levels through mindfulness practice can improve your boxing performance.
- Improved focus - Being focused will make training more effective, help you to learn faster and will no doubt improve all performances when you are present.
- Continued motivation - Throughout your training journey, you can become bored with your routine or overwhelmed by setbacks along the way. Since mindfulness keeps your focus in the present moment, it becomes easier to sustain your focus and your motivation, moment to moment.
- Improved coachability - Mindfulness can improve your awareness of your mental and physical behavior in every moment. This enhanced awareness can make it easier to be coached as you develop a greater command over your body and mind.
Ways to Develop Mindfulness
The merits of mindfulness are undeniable. Developing mindfulness does not need to be complicated.
Mindfulness means bringing your full awareness to the present moment. This ultimately takes a conscious effort and, over time, it will become second nature.
Meditation is a practice in which we can consciously train the mind to be present, calmer and more focused. Thus, meditation is the ultimate practice for mindfulness. Regular meditation can even improve your concentration and memory. It even has physical health benefits such as lowering heart and breathing rates, reducing tension and anxiety as well as reducing blood pressure.
There are many forms of meditation. You may have heard of or even tried some of the popular techniques out there today. It does not need to be complicated to be effective.
You can try the most basic meditation right now: close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and willfully bring your attention to the present moment. Focus fully on the sensations in and around your body, making a conscious effort not to engage in thoughts that take you away from the present moment.
Alternatively, you can try assisted meditation. Assistant meditation is guided meditation available in classes near you. You can also download assisted meditation apps, such as these popular choices:
Finding Your Sense of Purpose and What You Want In Life
Your sense of purpose is the overarching motivational force in your life-- it stems from your belief systems. It is what is most important for you to accomplish and sustain in your life. Your sense of purpose can help to determine your decisions and influence your chosen courses of action. Once you have consciously defined your sense of purpose, you will be more aware of what you want and how your moment-to-moment choices affect your overarching goals, thus enhancing your mindfulness.
Choose Your Habits and Don’t Let Your Habits Choose You
Our daily habits can control our lives more than we may realize. Sometimes our bad habits are so entrenched that by the time we realize what we are doing or thinking out of habit, we are already quite entangled in it. Behaving purely out of habit can be the ultimate form of mindlessness.
Habits can be helpful, as long as they are the good ones we mindfully choose to develop, and not the harmful ones we mindlessly slip into.
Using Structure and Routine to Develop Mindfulness
A great way to break out of a mindless rut is to develop a clear and detailed schedule with new daily routines that entrench good habits. You should accompany this with strict rules, including rules surrounding time management and any bad habits you may want to break. Once you have finalized your goals, your priorities and have made an action plan to reach them, you can now start to micro-manage the daily activities.
Initially, we do have to monitor ourselves this way constantly. Having something concrete to focus on in every moment will keep you from drifting off and will channel your focus into the present.
You do not have to stick to this rigid schedule forever. You can use this as a temporary measure to help to train you to be focused and mindful. Consider it like wearing braces for your mind and habits-something restrictive to correct poor formation. Once you have corrected many of the bad, mindless habits and new ones are entrenched, you can start to loosen or remove these “braces” as you will not need them.
The saying: “Fake It ‘til You Make It” rings true here!
Develop Mindfulness at Gloveworx
The Gloveworx team are huge advocates for finding the mind-body connection. We do not just seek physical transformation through boxing. We also love it for what it does for your mind and for you as a person. This is why we offer plenty of guidance and support. Our coaching considers mindfulness practices, as we offer holistic solutions for you to be the best boxer and person you can possibly be.