In the more recent years of my life, I have become familiar with the concept of mindfulness. At first, I thought that mindfulness was just another hobby that people have caught on to, much like meditation, yoga, or pottery. I was intrigued and started practicing it daily. And as I began to incorporate mindfulness practice into my life, I was asked a number of times what exactly mindfulness is and whether or not it is a hobby. I didn’t really know what to say. After a bit of research and thinking about it, I finally have my answer.
Mindfulness is not a hobby. It is a daily practice and a way of life. While mindfulness is not a hobby, there are hobbies that a person can do to develop mindfulness in their life. To practice mindfulness in a hobby, you need to select a hobby that requires 100% engagement in the current moment/activity.
Mindfulness is the practice of observing yourself, others, and the environment without judgment. The result of mindfulness practice is being able to think objectively while being 100% focused and present in the current moment.
Mindfulness may not be a hobby, but I have found that it forms part of many hobbies. Participating in a hobby is actually one of the best ways to develop mindfulness. If you would like to know why mindfulness isn’t considered a hobby, which hobbies develop mindfulness the most effectively, and how hobbies actually increase mindfulness, read on.
Why Mindfulness is Not a Hobby
When trying to decide if mindfulness is a hobby or rather a practice/art that is spurred on by hobbies, I turned to the Oxford Dictionary for a definition. The online Oxford Dictionary defines a hobby as follows: “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure”.
That got me thinking…is mindfulness something that I do as a hobby, in terms of this definition? No, it’s not! I do not just “do” mindfulness in my leisure time. I try to practice mindfulness all the time. Mindfulness is a practice that filters into every level of your life. You are not just mindful on the weekends or in the hours that follow after work; instead, you are mindful all of the time. Or at least you try to be as mindful as possible. The trick to being mindful is to practice it so often that it becomes second nature.
If mindfulness is not a hobby, what is it? Again, I turned to the Oxford Dictionary for a finite definition. The Oxford Dictionary actually has two definitions of mindfulness listed as follows:
- “The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”.
- “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.
That was also ‘‘food for thought’’ for me. This definition put it into perspective for me. As a result, I have come to believe that mindfulness is a way of life. It is a lifestyle, not a hobby. And the mindset of mindfulness can be spurred on by other activities and tasks. When you are mindful, you have a certain train of thought and a certain way of being. Some of the benefits of living a lifestyle of mindfulness are worth mentioning. These include:
- Reduced stress levels,
- You have less conflict in your life,
- Relationships deepen and strengthen as you form better connections with others,
- Reduced chronic pain,
- Lowered blood pressure,
- Your risk of heart disease is reduced,
- Sleeping patterns improve,
- You start to lose weight (through mindful eating and self-care),
- Your mood improves (reduced depression),
- Concentration and focus skills improve,
- Anxiety is kept at bay.
It might sound like a lot to expect from just practicing mindfulness on a daily basis, but if you try it out for yourself, you might even find that you experience even more benefits than those mentioned above.
How Hobbies Develop Mindfulness | 3 Ways Hobbies Make Mindfulness Easier
One of the reasons why people seek out hobbies is to escape from their daily routine and give the body and mind time to relax. Hobbies provide an exceptional distraction for the body, mind, and emotions. When participating in a hobby, you can detach from the stresses of the outside world, calm the mind and body, eliminate negative thoughts and focus on being neutral in your response to the triggers and scenarios around you. It’s a great way to reset your body, mind, and emotions.
Below are just 3 ways that hobbies help you to develop mindfulness:
1. When participating in a hobby, you are engaged in the present moment.
When involved in a hobby you are focused on what you are doing. You may pay attention to the way you are moving or need to concentrate on an object or subject in order to complete the task at hand. Regardless of what you are doing, it is hard to be distracted or distant while practicing your hobby. Hobbies generally demand your full attention. This helps to teach the mind to be more in the moment and more activity-focused (in the now).
2. Participating in a hobby teaches you to be non-judgmental, grateful, and joyful.
A large part of mindfulness is learning to observe how you feel about something without being judgmental. It is essential to understand that your feelings are your preferences and not actual facts.
What is the purpose of being non-judgmental when practicing mindfulness? Being non-judgmental allows you to be grateful, take pleasure in your current activities, and find joy in what you are doing.
3. Hobbies can teach you to be relaxed and less reactive in stressful situations.
When participating in a hobby, you are engrossed in what you are doing. You are no longer worried about the trivial issues of the day or the stresses that are taking your mind off the current moment. Instead, you are aware of your feelings, but you are calm, neutral, and not allowing them to take away from the value of the current moment. The more you are able to get your mind into this particular mindset, the easier it will be for you to mimic such calm and non-reactive/neutral behavior when stressful or confrontational situations arise.
Part of mindfulness is being able to assess a situation calmly and respond appropriately instead of reacting or flying off the handle.
Which Hobbies Drive Mindfulness Effectively?
While being mindful can’t really be your latest hobby, you can incorporate a variety of new hobbies in your life that actually drive mindfulness. As someone who lives and breathes the mindfulness approach, I cannot stress enough just how much value being mindful will bring into your life. Of course, I have to consistently practice mindfulness, and I choose to do this through incorporating hobbies into my life.
Below are a few of my favorite mindfulness-driving hobbies for you to consider:
Doing regular Yoga sessions.
Yoga focuses on relaxing the mind and body, as well as focusing on the moment that you are in. Mindfulness meditation is not yoga, but does form part of it. Yoga also promotes a life of health and self-care, which makes Yoga and mindfulness practice really go hand-in-hand.
Playing or learning to play an instrument.
Mindfulness is largely about focusing on what you are doing now without worrying and stressing about other things. When playing an instrument, you have to be in the current moment, focusing on precisely what you are doing. It is much the same when you are learning to play a musical instrument.
Paint by numbers.
Doing art is a great way to teach the mind to engage in an activity that you are currently part of. Paint by numbers is one of my personal favorites. If my mind and thoughts start to drift to other things, it is quickly brought back, because I have to reference numbers and colors. I find it really helpful for driving mindfulness in my life.
You might have noticed that adult coloring books have made their way onto the market. These coloring books are aimed at adults looking for mental stimulation, meditation, and mindfulness in their lives. My favorite types are the ones with intricate patterns, as I find they help me to be the most mindful. The fact that I have to keep refocusing my mind and changing colors really does make it easier to keep my mind on the present moment and deter it from veering off elsewhere.
If coloring seems like a good mindfulness hobby for you, set some time aside to sit down in a quiet place and do some coloring. It really does bring the mind into full engagement with the activity. It also calms and relaxes the body allowing you to unwind and de-stress.
Boost Your Mindfulness Practice with Your Hobbies
While I don’t personally think that you can consider mindfulness a hobby, I do fully support those who choose to add hobbies to their life that are known to drive mindfulness. If you want to practice mindfulness as a hobby, you can choose one of the hobbies mentioned above. You won’t regret it.