Everyday mindfulness involves maintaining an ‘open, accepting, present focus of attention during day-to-day life.’ It seems to be a life enhancing approach, but do you need to be good at mindfulness meditation to be able to focus on the present in your day to day life? And do they have the same benefits?
This paper (Thompson & Waltz, 2007) starts to explore this topic. The authors found little relationship between levels of everyday mindfulness and being able to be mindful during meditation.
The authors also looked at the relationship between personality factors and mindfulness. They report that both ‘everyday mindfulness’ and ‘mindfulness during meditation’ are associated with greater ‘openness to experience’ (being curious, interested in new ideas and tending to seek new experiences).
Everyday mindfulness was associated with:
· lower levels of neuroticism, (a tendency to experience more intense and more persistent painful emotions), and,
· higher levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness.
However, this study didn’t find a relationship between mindfulness during meditation and levels of neuroticism, agreeableness or conscientiousness.
What is unclear is whether being good at everyday mindfulness leads to less neuroticism and more agreeableness or whether people who are more neurotic and agreeable find it easier to be mindful in their daily lives. My pick is that it is a bit of both.
My point here is maybe, just maybe, we can become nicer and less neurotic by putting energy, moment to moment, into being present and accepting. And, although mindfulness meditation seems to be very good for us perhaps my favourite meditation teacher is right – the important thing is to just turn up rather than worry too much about getting it ‘right’?