Mindfulness: It’s All the Rage these Days
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Mindfulness is a huge buzz word these days.
Everyone is talking about it and how important mindfulness can be for our mental health. It can also mean something different to everyone and there is no “one” way to practice mindfulness (which can be overwhelming, but also encouraging as well).
So what is mindfulness?
John Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as, ““The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
I love that.
“Paying attention on purpose.”
That’s powerful stuff, because we often don’t. Seriously, we really don’t. Even if you think you are the master of paying attention, we miss so much when we are whizzing through life, when we are incessantly on our phones & social media, constantly in “communication” with others (I saw communication, not connection - there’s a key difference there), and always looking for the next “thing.”
Mindfulness is being completely in the present moment.
To put it simply, just being. Away from the noise of the outside world, your work, your kids, your partners, or technology. Just being with yourself in the present moment. Being with your senses. Noticing how you feel, what you smell, what you see, what’s going on inside of you. Bringing your attention and awareness to your body, how you move, how your muscles feel, how your breath flows in and out. You can be mindful of your emotions, mindful of others, mindful of your time, etc. It simply means that you are noticing. Noticing what is going on around you.
Mindfulness is about taking a non-judgmental stance on whatever is happening around you.
Thoughts are inevitably going to enter your mind, that's ok, but taking a mindful approach towards them requires you to notice and observe without judgement. In the mindful space, everything just is. It is ok. It is truth. It just is.
For example, during a mindfulness exercise, I may start thinking about the 100 things on my to-do list. I might begin listing the blog posts I need to write, the laundry that needs folding, the emails I need to respond to, the friend I need to text or call back, or mommy-daughter adventures I want to take. All these thoughts are ok. I'm not going to get down on myself for thinking about important things I need to do during a mindfulness exercises when I'm "supposed to" be not thinking about anything. No. These thoughts are ok, they are real, and they are my truth. But, I also have plenty of time to think about these things later. So, when thoughts pop into my mind, I acknowledge them (or else they will grow! and you will go on tangents like WOAH - I definitely know this from experience). One way that I acknowledge them is by literally stating in my mind that I'm thinking. "I'm thinking about my to-do list right now" or "I'm thinking about my adorable little baby right now." I also then tell myself that I have plenty of time to think about that later (maybe I already have a set time to think about my to-do list).
Me thinking about my to-do list right now is not going to get anything crossed off, it won't benefit me to add anything to the growing list, and it won't do me any good to be constantly thinking about it. Even though we think we are being productive, we're not. Mindfulness for that very moment is the most productive thing I can be doing right now.
There is a reason why they call mindfulness and meditation a "practice."
It is because it takes work. Its not easy and mindless. Its something to work on each and every day and can always be improved. And I think that is something extremely important to remember. You will not be perfect. You will fail. I know that may turn off a lot of you, but I’ll say it again. You will fail. And that is OK. It is absolutely alright. And if you're a perfectionist, this is a perfect thing for you to start doing that can ease your perfectionist anxiety (although it will be VERY uncomfortable at first). But even though you will fail, you will absolutely get back up again, you will get better, more competent with your practice, and feel GREAT while doing it. It is about ACCEPTING yourself, imperfections and all. If you've been good at everything in your life so far, then I'm sure you'll be "good" at meditating....eventually...but right away, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you won't be. You're going to have thoughts creep in and interrupt your peaceful meditation. And once again, its OK.
That's the joy of mindfulness.
Everything is ok. Everything just is.
The moment just is. You just are. You can just be. And when we're inundated with the fast-paced world of technology and constant to-do lists, just “being” sounds pretty darn nice (although I know that that raises the anxiety level of some of you that have difficulty just sitting still and not “accomplishing” anything).
If you’re wondering how to actually put this into practice, you’re in luck.
Head on over to my post in my Mindfulness Series where you will learn 5 exercises that you can do right away, no matter what level you are (and it doesn’t require joining a yoga studio -- although yoga is a pretty awesome mindfulness practice, maybe the ultimate mindfulness practice because it gets you to sweat too!).