What is mindfulness?
Direct quote from Mindfulness UK;
‘Mindfulness is about moving away from a thinking-based way of living into a more direct and immediate connection with our ordinary everyday experience’
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and engaged with whatever we are doing in this moment right now.
Mindfulness is a practice that enables us to focus the attention of the mind into the here and now, without judgement.
Mindfulness cultivates a disciplined mind that enables us to develop self-awareness. It brings awareness to our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them and being affected by them.
Being more mindful in our day to day lives can help calm the over thinking mind. The over thinking mind can lead to stress, anxiety and depression and can exaggerate existing health issues also related to stress.
Mindfulness is a way of living. It isn’t just sitting down and meditating. It is a skill we learn that enables us to create momentary pauses within our day where we can engage and truly live in the moment and soaking up the whole experience.
Jon Kabat-Zinn described mindfulness as ‘paying attention with awareness in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally’
What is it not?
Mindfulness is just meditation
There is an element of meditation within mindfulness, but meditation is not the whole of mindfulness……..
There are many forms of meditation that have been practised for thousands of years. Yes, mindfulness does have an element of meditation practice within it…..but that is not all that mindfulness is. Mindfulness is practiced in every moment of our lives.
Mindfulness is just relaxation and resting
One of the great benefits of mindfulness is feeling relaxed and rested but there is a lot more going on…….
The effects of some mindfulness practices can leave us feeling wonderfully relaxed in the body and the mind but the art of being mindful takes practice and requires effort, alertness, focused attention and a commitment to return to the present moment.
Mindfulness is having no thoughts
and a completely blank mind…..how boring.
That would be impossible. Even Buddhist monks who live mindfully and meditate every day still have thoughts……..
It is impossible for us to have no thoughts at all. Mindfulness is not about wiping our minds clear so that we no longer think. Thoughts are inevitable. They will keep popping up. But with mindfulness we develop an awareness in the mind that notices the thoughts and is then able to refocus the mind on to what we are doing or how we are being. Mindfulness isn’t boring…..its a journey and an incredible life skill.
You have to be mindful all the time
Again, this is not true. Mindfulness is a skill and tool that can be learned. But like other tools in life we sometimes pick up and use and sometimes we don’t……
I still need to think about and plan my car journey tomorrow and I will spend some time thinking about how differently I could have ended that difficult conversation with my boss yesterday…..but the difference now is that I will plan for tomorrow but won’t get caught up in overanalysing all the things that can go right or wrong about tomorrow…..or how there is no point even going because I will just get lost or the traffic will be bad……..and I allow myself a few moments to reflect and think about what I can do differently next time but I won’t spend the whole day lost in thought, ruminating and overanalysing the situation……because my day will pass by me and I wouldn’t have noticed as I have been caught up in my own mind a chattering overthinking thoughts.
Mindfulness is religious or spiritual…….I don’t want to be a hippy
Mindfulness originates from the Buddhist teachings and here in the West we tend to view Eastern philosophical teachings as being connected with spirituality. Buddhism is a religion. Mindfulness is not…….
Mindfulness wastes time….I am too busy for mindfulness
Mindfulness is not time wasting. It actually does the opposite. Practicing mindfulness in our daily lives actually helps us to grow time or gain time. We become much more focused in every moment of our day that we are no longer chasing time with the effect of time slipping through our fingers like sand…….