What is Mindfulness?
Welcome to this new series asking, ‘What Can Mindfulness Do For Me?’ and today we will find out exactly what Mindfulness is.
Firstly though let’s look at what Mindfulness is not:
- It’s not sitting with your legs crossed on a mat, neither is it ‘West Coast’ soft and fluffy stuff
- It is not something that is only for followers of Buddhism – In fact, it’s very much a secular thing
- 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
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
- It’s applying principles to the more mundane aspects of our lives, such as walking, talking, cooking and cleaning.
The true essence of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is something small and quite simple to do. It’s really about making little changes. By practicing these daily, you bring within your reach an enormous potential and capacity to change and experience things differently and better.
Mindfulness though can also be both the Universal and the Particular, and it’s not something to packaged, labelled and sold as another business initiative, or vacuous self-improvement fad.
There is no unbreakable regime to follow. 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 and it doesn’t confer the moral high ground.
Mindfulness is to be uncovered
My book is called, ‘Uncovering Mindfulness’ because I believe that Mindfulness is within each and every one of us to be uncovered and lived. You don’t have to go anywhere special to do it 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 your daily life. 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. The daily practice of Mindfulness works on where Gratitude roots itself in the Brain.
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Big changes from small beginnings
Mindfulness also boosts 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.
Mindfulness is being fully in the moment and paying attention to the present without judgement
Another way of thinking about it is making a shift in your head from the destination, to appreciating the actual journey.
The poet TS Eliot wrote, “Every moment is a fresh blessing’ and that’s not a bad way to start thinking about it. Think of it also as a life skill that can deepen your sense of wellbeing and fulfillment.
And whilst Mindfulness can help you 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-judgmental way.
At its 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 also about indulging in a short period of constructive inactivity everyday: when we shut out all the extraneous noise and refuse to engage with the negative thoughts, that’s when we are able to achieve a much needed mental calm and clarity.
Too good to be true?
Perhaps? But why don’t you just give it a go – You’ve nothing to lose. If you wanted to get your body fit you’d work out, so why not spend a wee bit of time building up your mindful pecs as well – You’ll soon notice a difference!
For some simple exercises and guided practices, Chapter Six of my book has several, together with a comprehensive resource guide.
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 & @OfficialUMWPM
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