People often wonder what the term mindful actually means. And they question what mindfulness itself is. There can be a tendancy to label it as a new craze or fad, or to dismiss it as something that doesn’t make sense. But these feelings can often come from those that don’t truly understand the concept, or perhaps those that fear it.
To be mindful it is to be alive.
There is no greater way to describe it then that. It is that sense of waking up. Waking up from a really bad dream. A place where you functioned, or existed, but you didn’t really feel and you didn’t truly notice. A place where you listened to the narratives in your head, where you were drawn in to a cycle of negative thinking and where you found it hard to gain the strength to question or challenge the thoughts in your head.
But what if you didn’t have to challenge those thoughts. What If it was ok to recognise them, but to then ask to them to leave your head or not to bother you right now. Can you imagine a world where you have the power? Where you are in the one in control? And where you can survive anything that life throws at you? On top of that can you imagine for a moment that you deserve to be happy? That it is ok to smile and embrace all that is good in your life. How would that feel? How free would you be? A sense of peace could take over and in the peace you would feel so good. You would feel so alive.
Mindfulness is the ability to be present in the moment. Totally and utterly focused right here and right now. It is being able to send away the thoughts that come in to your head and to focus on what you are doing at any given time. It means removing distractions such as the phone, music, television etc. It means being able to totally be. Can you picture that?
What would it be like to go for a mindul walk? A slow pace where you truly take in all your surroundings? Where you are not rushing and not thinking about what you are doing next. On that walk could you imagine hearing the birds sing, truly looking at the leaves , taking in the view etc. How calm would you feel if you could do that? How would your breathing be? How still would your mind be?
What would it be like to eat mindfully? To slow down and enjoy the food you are having. To appreciate the taste, the smell etc. To be thankful for what you are having and aware of how you are nurturing your body.
There are many more examples of when you could be more mindful. Just think – how would it be if you were working mindfully, socially being mindful. Imagine how focused you would be with someone if you were totally 110% with them. You might hear or notice things that you had never noticed before.
Ultimately being mindful is about clearing your mind of all distractions and fully being present. By doing this you will be so much more appreciative and grateful of what’s around you. Instead of focusing on the past or worrying about the future, you will be able to embrace the present. And instead of getting absorbed in negativity you will be able to radiate positivity. After all the energy we put out directly relates to the energy we get back.
To be able to do this we have to slow down. We have to remove distractions and empty our mind. To do this requires focused breathing. Slowing down. There are many different types of breathing techniques, but ultimately the key is slowing your breath and calming your mind. Some people choose to mediate, do yoga or Thai chi for example. These are all ways of calming the breath and slowing the thoughts.
Once you are able to do this you will feel so much lighter and calmer. You will feel free and a sense of liberation. You will be able to leave the past behind you and not be consumed in the thoughts that bring you down and pull you down. You will also be able to stop worrying about the future and to focus purely on the moment that you are currently in. Energised – you will definitely feel energised. And with this comes a happiness – one that will radiate and others will pick up on and feel. This is the energy you will give out and ultimately it will then come back to you.
This won’t of course happen overnight and it isn’t easy to put in place. Changing the thoughts and habits of a lifetime are difficult and challenging. But begin the process is all that counts. There is no need to put yourself down or give yourself a hard time if you can’t get it straight away or you struggle. Be aware of the things that you find difficult. Recognise them and keep going. If you practice being mindful every day it will get easier. Give it a try…who knows… you may see a real difference.