There is a great deal of confusion about mindfulness . . .
Jon Kabat-Zinn (Bestselling author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses) explained mindfulness as the awareness arises from the practice of paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment without judgement. We tend to spend most of our lives lost in thought, disconnected from our bodies, and out of touch with our emotions. Mindfulness helps us to use our bodily senses to anchor our attention in the present moment; and to observe our thoughts and emotions with patience, openness, acceptance, gentleness, curiosity and kindness. Mindfulness is about purposefully cultivating a way to quieten our minds, connect with our bodies and open our hearts.
There is a great deal of confusion about mindfulness.
It is not emptying the mind. Anyone who has tried meditation will very quickly discover that when one becomes quiet, you become aware of your chattering, busy mind. Mindfulness is about observing our thoughts, noticing and labelling them, and then returning to the present moment using our bodies as an anchor.
It is not a religion. It is a way of choosing to be present in our lives instead of living on automatic pilot. The practice has been informed by Buddhist meditative practices, but is also present in the contemplative Christian and Jewish traditions. This often enhances, enriches and expands our spiritual experience, but it isn’t a religious teaching or doctrine.
It is not easy. People often equate meditation with a sense of blissfulness and peace. However, mindfulness is about becoming present to ourselves. Often when we are quiet, we become aware of our distress, grief, fear and pain. Mindfulness is about compassionately engaging with whatever we find, not running away from it. It takes commitment and perseverance, intentionally putting aside time to be present to ourselves.
It is not selfish. Mindfulness is about healing ourselves, being present open and gentle to ourselves, so that we may go out into the world as centred, compassionate, present people, able to be powerfully loving presences in the world.
It is not a New Age fad.
The fundamental attitudes of mindfulness include non-judgement, patience, openness, trust, non-striving, acceptance, letting go, gentleness, generosity, empathy, gratitude, curiosity and enquiry, and loving-kindness. Mindfulness will change your life. Beauty, joy, gentleness and the extraordinary miracle of life is available to us 24 hours a day, how often are we available to it?
Mindfulness isn’t a luxury; it’s a practice that trains your brain to be more efficient and better integrated, with less distractibility and improved focus. It minimizes stress and even helps you become your best self.