An Illumination Exclusive; The Essence of Mindfulness
I can’t speak enough about my love for the practice and idea of mindfulness. For anyone who has been an avid reader of mine for any length of time, knows by now that mindfulness has been a literal game changer for so many things in my life. Quite frankly, I can’t even guarantee that I’d still be alive today if it wasn’t for practices like mindfulness, emotion regulation, radical acceptance and so on and so forth.
My journey has been one that for the longest time, continuously seeked to find an end to a seemingly invincible addiction to heroin. As well as awful mental health diseases like depression and anxiety.
The first part of being mindful is to stop. Yes we can’t grasp any mindfulness until we stop all our hustle and stress. When we look at the stop, we actually see a popular acronym that pertains to mindfulness. It’s a recommended model in many mindfulness curriculums.
The acronym S.T.O.P. for mindfulness translates to-
The first word stop, is what it’s all about when we are looking to establish mindfulness in our lives. By stopping, we get a better ability to take in the whole picture, and our vision of our life, can stop seeming like such a blur. The world of rushing around, cutting back on sleep, working 12 hours when it really isn’t necessary, and living our lives at the direction of alarm clocks, and iphone calendars is a life that can become robotic in nature.
What happens from there is, we begin to cut corners in other parts of life so we can have more and more time in those other areas like work. Cutting corners may include things that aren’t the best for our health. Depriving ourselves of sleep, ignoring our mental health, and looking for quick fix meals, are the wrong answers. We want solutions that support quality long term goals and effects.
Take is a word that most experts states refers to taking a deep breath, taking a closer look, taking a look at how we feel inside.
The more I practice mindfulness skills, the more able I am, to catch myself any time of day or night, when I’m in a rut, or in a bout of unhealthy thinking or doing. Taking that deep breath, and reminding myself of the details of the exact moment I’m in, does so much to quickly lower anxiety and stress levels. It’s no magic cure. But the more we go on practicing this, the easier it gets to take control of ourselves, and immediately get ourselves back to a grounded nature.
Observe is next. And it couldn’t be any more fitting than that. I’ve already actually touched on that. Observing the moment, taking a look at the big picture, and most importantly, observing where we are, whether it’s what’s within our hearts or our minds.
Observing the big picture, and taking that insight to really look at where we are, on any particular day can do a lot to change a perspective rather quickly. We can look at something and if our minds and patience aren’t open enough to the moment, we may stress about something that may not be that stressful at all. I use the term empty anxiety to describe those moments of wasted negative energy.
The more I practice mindfulness as a whole, the more I see empty anxiety going on all around me, and the world that I’m in. It’s a sad thing, but nobody will ever find the true essence of being mindful, until they themselves open their minds and hearts to the idea.
Proceed is the word used for the last step of the acronym. When we have that moment of mindfulness, we are able to have a reset that brings us out of potential exaggerated reacting, and into responding accurately, which in turns is the truest way of utilizing mindfulness. It is something that can lower our stress level many times a day. It brings us to a constant peace. And even when times really are stressful, we can handle them better and more prepared.
Mastering mindfulness takes consistent practice over periods of time. But don’t let that fact be intimidating. The practice can be short periods of time over many weeks and months. Just like mastering other skills, this idea of being mindful can too become a mastered skill. It really does a body good.