It seems everywhere you turn lately there’s some article, podcast, or social media post making mention of mindfulness, meditation, or yoga and the importance of incorporating some or all of these into your daily life.There’s so much info that it can be overwhelming, at best. And if you’re anything like me, that can sometimes be enough to cause me to ignore it and not even bother. I mean, where could I possibly carve out an hour in my day for such a thing? It almost feels like a luxury I can’t afford. Where do you even start?
What is Mindfulness?
Let’s start with what this whole mindfulness thing is all about. The practice of Mindfulness has it’s roots in Buddhism and overtime has been secularized by individuals like Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). So, what is mindfulness exactly? The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkley describes it as follows:
- Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
- Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
In other words, mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of our surroundings and what we’re doing, and not react or be overwhelmed by it.
How Does It Work?
One of the things I like most about mindfulness is that anyone can do it. It doesn’t require you to change in any way or to have a strong skillset in a certain area. Find a comfortable place where you can sit and be still for a few moments, and you’re good to go! Once you’ve set some time aside and are in a comfortable resting position, close your eyes or soften your gaze and simply observe the present moment as it is. When your thoughts wander, simply acknowledge them and gently bring your attention back to the present, your object of focus. Your mind will wander and your thoughts will veer, but remember, this is okay! Acknowledge your thoughts and redirect yourself back to the present as many times as you need.
The other great thing about this practice is that there’s not really a ‘wrong way’ to do it, unlike yoga for instance, where it can be challenging to line up the breath and flow, etc. People will often say that they can’t seem to ‘quite’ their mind but, as Mindful.org states “getting lost in thought, noticing it, and returning to your chosen meditation object— breath, sound, body sensation, or something else—is how it’s done. That’s about it. If you’re doing that, you’re doing it right!”
So Why Bother?
With life being as hectic as it is, it likely wouldn’t take much to convince yourself that you simply don’t have the time or energy to put into a mindfulness practice. But before you do, consider this. Research has shown that a simple 5 minutes of practicing mindfulness can help to reduce stress, help to focus your mind, improve connections in your relationships, and quiet the chatter inside your head. (mindful.org).
We live in a society that is so focused on the next thing, on tomorrow, on what the future will bring, in the hopes that once we’ve attained those “things” then we’ll be happy. John Lennon once said, “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” So take a moment to enjoy today, enjoy the moment, and appreciate all that is good right now.