What Is Mindfulness? #MindfulnessForLife
So, What is Mindfulness?
Well firstly, let’s look at what it’s not:
- It’s not sitting with your legs crossed on a mat, neither is it ‘West Coast’ soft and fluffy stuff
- Neither is it something that is only for followers of Buddhism — In fact, Mindfulness is no more Eastern, than electricity is Western — and it’s very much a secular thing: Many religions have been influenced by it and I talk more about this in Chapter 2 of my Book ‘Uncovering Mindfulness’, but Mindfulness itself is not religious
- It’s not trying to ban the wrong sort of thoughts
- It’s not the doctrine of an evangelical life coach preaching moral mastery — There’s nothing to actually give up to reach an ideal performance state, &, neither do you have to go on retreats or full immersion courses to begin to practice it and feel some of the very real benefits; &
- It’s certainly not a shortcut to Saint Hood!
So, what do I think it is? Quite simply:
- It’s concentration in the present moment
- It’s an acceptance of negative thoughts without being caught up in them
- It’s a calming of the Mind with conscious breathing
- It’s enjoying and taking time over one thing, one task, at a time and not multitasking; &
- It’s applying the principles of Mindfulness to the more mundane aspects of our lives, such as walking, talking, cooking and cleaning.
The true essence of Mindfulness
In its true essence, Mindfulness is something small and quite simple to do. It’s really about making little changes. Practicing these little changes daily, you bring within your reach an enormous potential and capacity to change and experience things differently & better.
Mindfulness though can also be both the Universal and the Particular, &, it’s not something to packaged, placed in a box, labelled and sold as another business initiative, or vacuous self-improvement fad to sign-up to.
There is no unbreakable regime to follow, or yoke to tie yourself too. It’s not something that must come first, taking over your life and forcing you to fit everything else around it. It’s not intolerant, it doesn’t confer the moral high ground and it doesn’t have to be in any way, shape or form, inconvenient.
Mindfulness is to be uncovered
My Book is called, Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ for a simple reason and that is because I believe that Mindfulness is within each and every one of us to be uncovered and to be lived. You don’t have to go anywhere special to do it and you don’t have spend your hard earned money on taking retreats and being immersed to be a net beneficiary of what it can do for you through simple daily practice.
Living a Mindful life can have a very real impact on the day-to-day. Do you know that feeling happy comes from feelings of Gratitude? You need to be able to feel grateful for things before you can feel happy and the daily practice of Mindfulness can work on where Gratitude roots itself in the Brain.
Big changes from small beginnings
It can also boost personal resilience, emotional intelligence, compassion and empathy and big changes can come from small beginnings. With only five minutes contemplative mindful meditation a day, the science unequivocally shows that we can benefit from some really profound changes to our levels of stress, how we think about things and how we respond.
Another way of thinking about it is making a shift in your head from the destination, to appreciating the actual journey.
Taoism describes Mindfulness as ‘Non Doing’ and it has also been described as knowing what is happening while it is happening, no matter what.
TS Eliot Wrote
The poet TS Eliot wrote, “Every moment is a fresh blessing’ and that’s not a bad way to start to think about it and how you might approach living a mindful life. Think of it also as a life skill that can deepen your sense of wellbeing and fulfilment.
And whilst Mindfulness can help you to gain control of negative thoughts and emotions, it doesn’t stop you feeling emotion per se — It does however, allow you to deal with those feelings more dispassionately and become more receptive, open to and aware of yourself in a non-judgemental way.
At it’s heart, Mindfulness is all about physically and mentally connecting and becoming aware of what is going on inside your mind and body, whilst also being aware of the outside world — It’s not Zoning out but Zooming in!
It’s also about indulging in a short period of constructive inactivity everyday.
The fact is when we shut out all the extraneous noise (the constant chatter of Buddha’s Monkey Mind or Steve Pinks Inner Chimp in our heads) and refuse to engage with those negative thoughts, that’s when we are able to achieve a much needed mental calm and clarity.
Do you think it might seem too good to be true *|FNAME|*?
Perhaps? But for those who will think that it’s all just a little too good to be true — Why don’t you just give it a go — You’ve nothing to loose and if you wanted to get your body fit you’d go to the gym, so why not spend a wee bit of time building up your mindful pecks as well — You’ll soon notice a difference!
For some simple exercises and guided practices, Chapter Six of my Book has a few, together with a comprehensive resource guide and there’s also the iTunes Podcast and YouTube series as well. Just search for, ‘From Mindfulness With Love’.
In the next post
We’ll be delving into all the science that’s been making such an irrefutable case over the past few years for the efficacy of Mindfulness. But I’ll be writing about it in a way that makes sense of it and enable everyone to understand and get it.
Over the years I’ve taking to heart Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and one that has always had a particular resonance for me is: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
Part of my mission in writing and sharing this series with you is to make the complex not so complex, the tough stuff not so tough, &, the unreachable within the grasp of everyone — And as I’ve said, I think Mindfulness is within each of us to be uncovered, so it’s definitely within reach too!
There’s too much that’s been written about Mindfulness that is intentionally academically loaded, biased, or philosophically laboured and it all only serves to obscure and complicate things; getting in the way of understanding and making meaning.
I want people to be able to tune-in, turn-on and do it. Right here. Right now!
So until the next time, take care and Be Mindful!
And don’t forget to follow on Twitter too @TheMindfulBook