There is a lot of talk going around lately about mindfulness. However, there are still a lot of people who don’t really understand what mindfulness is or what exactly its purpose is. Unfortunately, this stops them from being able to experience the life changing benefits that mindfulness exercises can offer. To offer a solution to this problem, I found this helpful article on getting mindful.
Check out this helpful article on mindfulness from Redefining Reality.
Learning to listen to that still small voice inside your head; that prompting that tells you whether or not the decision you are about to make is the right choice for you is at the very core of living authentically, but learning to listen takes time and patience and, most of all, it requires that you are not only aware that it is speaking to you, but mindfulness of what it is that is being said. But what exactly is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, “means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, In the present moment and non judgmentally.”
While these are simple enough words, putting them into practice in one’s everyday life can be another story altogether. Think about it – how often to you pay attention to something that is happening around you – right here and now – purposefully –and without judging it?
In order to understand mindfulness, let’s take the simple concept of eating. Everyone eats. But how many of us eat mindfully? That is to say, how many people pay complete and total attention to the food that they are putting into their mouths as they are putting it in? Are you noticing the flavor and texture of each mouthful? Or are you scarfing down your sandwich while you sit at the computer scrolling through your emails and simultaneously making a grocery list of things you need to pick up on your way home from work? Better yet, if you DO pay attention to the food that you are eating, chances are that you are judging it (this is wonderful/horrible/disgusting/too salty/too sweet/delicious etc.).
It is not until you can purposefully sit down to a meal and focus entirely on your eating; every aspect of your eating (the look, the scent, the flavor, the chewing etc.) and not make any judgments on it (too hot, too cold, too sweet or sour) that you can say that you have experienced mindful eating. So too it is with every other aspect of our life.
It is as if we are continually going through life with those red correcting pens that teacher’s use and giving every experience a grade: A+ for great sex, D- for vindictive co-worker B- for interesting (if long) sermon etc. We can’t seem to keep our own opinions out of the mix and simply enjoy the things around us; the experiences, the people even, for whom and what they really are. Not only that, it is as if we feel that we can’t really be living unless we pack as much “doing” into any one time frame as is humanly possible.
Perhaps this is some sort of residual fallout from the corporate obsession with the increasing of productivity through time management, or maybe it has something to do with the old Puritanistic adage that ‘idle hands are the devil’s playground.’ But in western societies it is rare to find those who appreciate the wisdom in holding our minds still enough – long enough – to observe those things that are happening around us and to us for exactly who and what they are without attaching expectations to them, but mindfulness (as well as its sister meditation and it’s cousin awareness) are looked down on and even ridiculed throughout much of western civilization as being practices that are unproductive and without any real purpose.
The Purpose of Mindfulness
Think of mindfulness as a sort of practical meditation. Instead of sitting still in one place and attempting to quiet our minds we focus our attention on experiencing what is happening to us – and around us – in this exact moment in time; seeing it all, feeling it all, experiencing it all without attaching any sort of expectations, and in spite of what you might think, practicing mindfulness really isn’t as difficult to master as you might think.
Image Credit: newyorker
To see the rest of the article as well as the five mindfulness tips, Redefining Reality