- The quality or state of being conscious or aware
- 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
Mindfulness has become one of the latest buzzwords in the wellness industry, and for good reason. But what is it? I mean, it sounds good and we hear it everywhere:
Be mindful of:
- What you eat
- How you speak
- Your thoughts, values, actions
- How you spend/save your money
- The people with whom you surround yourself
Like meditation, mindfulness sounds good on paper but how do you do it? It is a skill to be practiced and cultivated; what it looks like for me will look different for you. That said, it’s possible for everyone once you understand what it is and you break it down into steps.
Having a goal or just thinking about something on its own does not constitute mindfulness. There are three different aspects of mindfulness that work together to establish a current “state of being.”
What do you hope to achieve? What is your greater purpose? It may be something like stress reduction, weight loss, increased stamina, improved gratitude, etc.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to your inner and outer experiences and sensations. What are you feeling, hearing, seeing? What is your visceral reaction? What emotions and thoughts are triggered? Explore that openly; notice and acknowledge without judging.
What is guiding and driving this decision? Pay attention to your own curiosity and questions. You are exploring the present (not past) state. How do you feel about it? There is no right or wrong answer - but notice it.
While practicing mindful meditation, it’s helpful to be in a comfortable position in a quiet location. Slow your breathing but don’t focus too much on the breath or you won’t be able to notice other sensations. Sit as long - or short - as you wish. When you are done, you may jot down a few notes about how you felt.
To be mindful during everyday activities - like eating or how you talk to your partner, it’s imperative to slow down. I’m certain if we all slowed down enough to truly think about what we were doing, why, how it was making us feel and the emotions that were triggered, we could save a lot of grief within ourselves and the world at large.
The truth is we all get caught up in the daily grind, getting from point A to point B, and simply surviving the chaotic over-scheduled-ness that has become idealized and normalized in our society.
I challenge you to pick two or three things you want to become more mindful of, such as your Yoga practice, bedtime routine, self-care, etc. During those activities, truly and completely slow down and experience the activity; notice your feelings and sensations - inside and around you; acknowledge your thoughts, questions, and your attitude. How do you feel during and after? Do this for a week. Leave a comment below - how did it go? What did you try? What’s next for you?