What is Mindfulness?
Posted by Fiona Gavine on the 15th December 2017
Busy lifestyles, over-full minds
Life is pretty demanding these days. We have busy jobs and busy social lives. We work hard and we play hard. The advances in social media, the internet and communication technology give us access to information 24 hours, seven days a week. The more technology advances the more we feel under pressure to do more things in less time. We do a lot of multi-tasking and our heads are spinning. They are spinning so much that we lay awake at night with anxiety or obsessive thoughts that simply do not want to stop. Our minds are full and it shows. Rather than being focused when we need to be focused, we are distracted. Our emotions get the better of us in the most inconvenient moments. In some cases we feel everything is getting out of control – we are out of control. This is the opposite of being mindful.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient practice to enhance mental health and wellbeing. It is a means to help you to rest in the present moment and become aware of what is. Quite simply it is an invitation to come out of a mode of doing into a mode of being for a while.
The two aspects of mindfulness
The first aspect is that of focusing awareness to what IS in the HERE and NOW. This can range from observing the environment we are in, to our body and its sensations, our thoughts, behaviours and feelings.
The second aspect is that of adopting a particular attitude toward our experiences in the present moment. This attitude is characterised by curiosity, openness, and acceptance as well as compassion.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Yes it is simple, but it is far from easy to actually do. Try it and see how long you manage to stay really present without your mind shooting off in all kinds of directions. Our minds are habitually fixed on the future or the past. Being present in the moment is something we rarely do. And yet, the moment is the only true time we really ever have. It is the only place where we can affect what will happen next. We do this all the time of course simply by living our lives, but we do not do it with awareness. We are getting carried along by our habits, routines, fears and expectations. This is one of the reasons why we are getting the feelings of being overwhelmed, not being in control and feeling life somehow slips by day after day, year after year.
Becoming more conscious
If you find that this is not how you want to be anymore, you need to break through the force of your routines, fears and habits. The best way to do it is by learning to stay present through mindfulness. When you practice mindfulness, it will give you an opportunity to wake up out of your habitual behaviours and your routines. It allows you to become more conscious about what choices you are making and why. It gives you the space to examine what is happening at every moment in your life. When we are mindful we have a chance to understand more fully what is driving us and then make decisions about our next steps with awareness. This is hugely empowering and liberating. Because of this mindfulness has been shown in research to be particularly helpful with any form of obsessive thinking or behaviour, and for people who suffer from stress, anxiety or excessive worrying. It has been used successfully with depression, chronic pain issues, and addiction.
Are you intrigued yet?
Here is another good reason why you might want to start learning about mindfulness.
Through mindfulness you learn how to just be and rest in the moment. It gives you room and inner space. It frees you up to notice what went unnoticed. It brings you back to yourself and the only point in time where anything ever happens: HERE and NOW! Because of this, it is a powerful tool for healing, transformation and growth.