Mindfulness- what is it anyway? It is a key phrase in mental health, yoga and other fields right now. It is used in medical fields to manage chronic pain, it is used in mental health for depression, anxiety and other disorders, it is used in addiction and recovery, in other words it is every where but what is it?
That, my dear friend, depends on who you ask. My definition is that mindfulness is being aware of what is going on in and around you and accepting it without labeling or judging it. I also like Jon Kabat Zinn's definition "Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment, without judgement" If you have not heard of him Jon Kabat-Zinn is a famous teacher of mindfulness meditation and the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts where the program has been active for over 30 years. It is a fabulous program that I am fortunate to have been able to complete and a goal of mine is to one day be a certified MBSR teacher. That certification by its very nature of being mindful is a long journey and process that is a joy to be undergoing.
In life, most of us, live in the past or the future. We spend amazing amounts of time analyzing the past. We review in detail what we did or said, what we wish we had done or said, regretting actions or events or wishing we we had done something we didn't do. When we aren't living in the past we are in the future. We are planning, we are imagining often in great detail every possible outcome or event that we could encounter and often feel compelled to play out every possible ending and how we would react and feel if this or that happened. Guess what? It usually never happens in the way or ways we imagine it. If by chance it does happen the way you imagined is it helpful or does it serve us in anyway to live the event more than the one time it actually occurs? I say NO! How often does this happen though? We live and re live past and future events and when we do we put our bodies through the exact same physical reaction as if it is happening over and over and over. Our bodies go into a stress reaction. We jump to fight, flight or freeze reaction involuntarily and our heart rate increases, blood pressure increases, adrenaline gets going and all sorts of physical reactions that are needed IF our lives are in danger and we have a bear chasing us. The reaction is not needed if the phone rings, we are late to a meeting or have an argument with a partner or friend yet this is what we have conditioned our bodies to do. I always try to ask of myself and others around me "does that serve you in positive way" and if the answer is no then lets try to change it. Most of the time the present moment, the right now is ok. Most of the time right where you are and what you are doing is ok it is the fear of future or regret of past that creates depression and anxiety. If we practice and achieve being present in the here and now and being mindful, we are safe and can avoid many of the unneeded and unwanted emotions and fears we experience. This is a touch on what mindfulness is and can do for you. I look forward to sharing much more. I want to give you something to try at home to begin putting this into action to living your true authentic life as the real you.
Take away tip: Try these at home as beginning mindfulness exercises.
1- Set a timer for one minute. Close your eyes and listen, just listen and nothing else. After the timer goes off write down every sound you heard, all noises big or small.
2- Set a timer for one minute. Look around the room you are in, just look and nothing else. After the timer goes off close your eyes and name verbally all the things you saw in the room and ask someone to them down for you.
3- Set a time for one minute. Close your eyes and feel, just feel and nothing else. Notice how your body feels inside, notice the feel of the floor on your feet, the seat you are sitting on, the air in the room, the sensation of breathing in and out. After the timer goes off write down everything you felt.
Then take another moment or two to look, listen and feel and see if you are able to observe anything you missed the first time. Start noticing what you hear, see and feel everywhere you go, it is interesting to take a notebook and write some observations down so you can compare the changes as you practice more. Have fun with it. We are here to experience so experience and really be present with the experience. Don't label, don't judge. It does not have to be good or bad, some things just are, just notice, be aware, be mindful and this is the start of the journey of MORE.
love and light