In developing mindfulness in people, hobbies are not what usually come to mind. But to the popular and tried-and-true methods– meditation, yoga – for building a mindful disposition, psychologists and analysts have found that hobbies are a great tool, too.
Hobbies are activities that you involve yourself in during your leisure time, for pleasure and enjoyment. You seek out hobbies based on your interest; otherwise, they would defeat their purpose. They are a break from your regular compulsory activities, such as work and home.
But one positive outcome of having a hobby is the mindfulness that it helps to create. In the rush of daily life, stress and anxiety can strike you. These can come from challenges at work or school, relationship troubles with family members and co-workers, and even problems that may arise unexpectedly, like a loss or a work-related issue.
When you are mindful, you are able to think objectively because you are present and focused in the moment. You see yourself, other people and the environment without judgement. You can achieve this mindfulness through various methods, and pursuing a hobby is one of them. When you have a hobby, you get away mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically from your routine surroundings. This distraction gives your mind and emotions an opportunity to detach and calm down, taking you away from negative thoughts and refocusing on being neutral.
How your hobbies can make you more mindful:
Hobbies get you caught up in the present moment.
Whether it’s photography or knitting, you become aware of the visual elements of your subject – its colors, shapes and textures, and the interplay of lights and shadows. Or you may be into sports. All your focus is on the game, to hit that perfect drive in golf or make a successful shot in basketball. You develop mindfulness when you are engrossed in your hobby. Being mindful eliminates external distractions and increases your chances of winning. Even if it is recreational play and winning is not the end goal, it still gives you a feeling of joy at your accomplishment.
Hobbies let you experience joy and gratitude.
You choose hobbies that give you pleasure and enjoyment when you are doing them. They are your creative outlet, a relief from the everyday stresses you encounter. These artistic pursuits give you joy and make you grateful that you have the capability and opportunity to do them.
Mindfulness, a nonjudgmental awareness of yourself and your environment, inspires gratitude and appreciation. As you are absorbed in your hobby, be thankful for the gift given to you for the simple pleasures of taking photos, gardening, reading, or whatever pastime you have chosen. Gratitude shuts out envy, anger and resentment and welcomes joy. The joy you feel by being mindful opens your heart to others, also wishing joy for them.
Hobbies teach you to be calm and less reactive to distressful situations.
Some hobbies have repetitive motions, like quilting, walking, or running. Most require focus, some more intense than others. But they all have one thing in common. Hobbies develop a mindful calmness in you. You may be into fishing, or scrapbooking, or model building. They all call for your focus which, in turn, quiets your busy mind.
When you are engrossed in your hobby, you are focused and aware of the present. You don’t think of the worries of the past and anxieties for the future. Done on a regular basis, you develop an inner serenity that makes you less reactive when confronted with a distressing situation.
If you have not picked up a hobby, it’s time to start one. There are hundreds of options available on the internet. Your choice will be guided by your interest and your personality. The enjoyment and gratification that hobbies yield is extraordinary. Beyond the enjoyment, you will see the change in yourself as you become more mindful, positive in your views, and appreciative of the people and circumstances around you.