Mindfulness. A word that has been buzzing around for quite some time now, but makes us wonder, what exactly is it? We may have heard it means meditation, some have learned it is focusing on the breath, or perhaps you have been taught it is going for a walk and just observing the different trees around you. Well here is the simple (but also not so simple) answer, it is all that.. and more.
If I had to define mindfulness in one line, it would be - increasing your awareness to the present moment by fully engaging yourself in what is happening in the now, without judgment towards any thoughts, feelings, or sensations that may accompany that moment.
We’re constantly told to “live in the present” or “seize the day”, but there really is something to those old cliche sayings that we see on kitchen home decor signs we find at HomeSense.
By living in the present moment and consciously engaging with the people we are speaking to or the environment we are surrounded by, we separate ourselves from thoughts of the past or future which can sometimes cause pain and suffering, and inevitably takes away from the now.
For example, anxiety can be considered a preoccupation with the future. With anxiety, perhaps we are thinking of a party coming up and the nerves of meeting new people or maybe it’s a big exam and the possibility of going blank during the test and failing completely. On the other hand, trauma is a situation where the mind and body are so deeply connected to what happened in the past that it is as if that is happening right now, even though you may be in a space of complete safety and comfort. By coming back to the present moment we create space to acknowledge those thoughts, feelings or sensations of the past or future events and choose whether or not those thoughts, feelings or sensations are serving us in a positive way.
And so, going back to my simple (but no simple) answer - mindfulness can be meditation, if that is what the present moment is looking like for you right now. It can also be focusing on the breath and becoming aware of the rise and fall of your body or the air flowing through your lungs. And sometimes it is going for a walk and noticing how green the trees are, or the smell of the pine. It is taking in different aspects of the now, whether that’s sitting at your desk at work or folding your laundry, so as to fully engage yourself in what is happening in the current moment.
The state of being mindful does not come easy, and like any muscle, it takes time and practice for it to feel more natural. However, I assure you that the effort is worth it and it is my hope that you feel a difference in your levels of stress and pain, and start to see the world through a brighter lens.