Dispositional mindfulness, also known as trait mindfulness, can be achieved through repeatedly achieving state mindfulness.
Many of us get caught up in our busy lives and to-do lists, preventing us from connecting to the present. Mindfulness practice can help you slow down and enjoy the here and now.
Being mindful doesn’t always require sitting still and meditating in a lotus position. It can be as simple as slowing down and paying attention to the task at hand.
Mindfulness is characterized as both a state and a trait. State mindfulness occurs in meditation, and trait mindfulness refers to a person’s predisposition to be mindful daily.
Dispositional mindfulness, also known as trait mindfulness, is a type of awareness that involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in the present moment without judgment.
State mindfulness is more in the moment, whereas trait mindfulness occurs over time and becomes part of your personality.
Mindfulness is a broad term and includes many subcategories.
“The difference between trait and state mindfulness is that during mindfulness, our brain (i.e., mind) is engaged in present-moment awareness,” says Anne-Marie Emanuelli, meditation teacher and creative director of Mindful Frontiers.
“We stop what we’re thinking about and practice paying attention to an anchor (breath, sounds, body sensations) or focusing intently on a specific activity.”
While practicing, we achieve “state mindfulness,” which means that at that moment, you’re aware of only the anchor you’re using to enhance awareness of the present moment.
Trait mindfulness would be what you achieve after practicing mindfulness over some time.
Mindfulness is a practice and takes repetition to achieve the accumulated benefits that would affect your inherent tendency (trait) to bring awareness when needed or desired, Emanuelli adds.
Dispositional mindfulness contributes to improved mental and physical health. Having a calmer disposition allows you to better handle life’s stressors.
When mindfulness becomes part of who you are, it has a positive ripple effect on all aspects of your life, including developing habits you desire to adopt.
Can connect easily to the present moment
Rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, being present enables you to enjoy life fully.
“Dispositional mindfulness allows us to be more readily able to bring our attention to the present moment or to an activity that we wish to engage in,” Emanuelli explains.
“We have practiced paying attention enough that this state can be achieved when we desire. It’s part of who we are, much like another part of our personality.”
Can better manage stress and conflict
While stressful situations are inevitable, you can control how you respond. Practicing mindfulness may help you cope when these situations arise.
“Someone with dispositional mindfulness would act more calmly under stress or conflict. They wouldn’t react as quickly to a stimulus because they have the ability to pause and choose their response,” Emanuelli states.
The bottom line is practice. The more you try to practice mindfulness and enter a state of mindfulness, the sooner you may be able to achieve trait mindfulness.
In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “With mindfulness, we have the capacity to recognize the habit energy every time it manifests.”
Mindfulness of habit can help us break a “bad” habit or create a new, preferred habit, Emanuelli explains. You may notice what’s happening and mindfully pay attention to it and then decide whether it will continue or change.
Being mindful during your everyday tasks will allow you to slow down and focus on what you’re doing.
Consider the following practices to help you through your journey of practicing mindfulness in your daily life.
“When we’re eating, we can slow down and notice the colors of the foods, the sound, smell, and taste, and the subtleties of the foods we’re eating. We can mindfully think about the story of the food(s) we’re eating,” Emanuelli states.
We can infuse gratitude for all the humans and creatures that contributed to our family having this food to eat.
You may ask yourself questions, such as:
- Where did the food come from?
- Who grew it?
- Who picked it?
- How did it get to the store?
- Who bought it?
- How did it get to the table?
Try to tap into your senses and take time to observe your surroundings. What do you see? What do you smell and hear?
When we’re walking, we slow down and notice the sounds and smells around us. Then, we pay attention to the act of walking: raise the foot, step forward, lower the foot, Emanuelli explains.
You may begin to notice the sensation of your feet in your shoes, balancing on the ground, and where your weight is on the feet as you move forward — focusing on breathing slowly and trying to match your steps to your breath.
While doing a creative project such as knitting, crocheting, and painting, you can slow down and focus your attention on the movements needed to construct your artwork.
“What’s the needle doing? How does the yarn or paint feel? Is there a scent or smell to the material we are working with? The repetitious nature of creativity lends itself well to being a mindfulness activity,” says Emanuelli.
Mindfulness involves both state and trait changes. Entering a mindful state and practicing mindfulness often can increase your experience of trait mindfulness.
Trait mindfulness is when being mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and actions become part of your personality.
There are numerous ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, including:
- mindful eating
- mindful walking
- mindful creativity