What is Mindfulness?
Recently mindfulness has become a word used to cover many things, often completely straying from the essence of what is mindfulness. As with most things that become fashionable, it also starts to loose it’s meaning. People are promoting mindfulness as a kind of miracle cure for society’s illnesses. To be fair, if practiced correctly mindfulness teaches us some very powerful lessons but it goes far beyond just meditation, which is the common perception.
To me mindfulness is a way of life, it incorporates formal meditation but also includes many lifestyle choices.
To fully appreciate the impact of living a mindful life, you have to commit to a certain way of life. That doesn’t mean you have to change religion or anything like that. It just means that you decide that you will become more aware of your thoughts throughout your day, making a conscious decision to stay as much as possible in the moment.
Sounds easy right? What could be easier than just spending some time doing nothing, just sitting? What could be easier than stopping to actually become aware of the thoughts going through our mind right now?
Ah that is exactly the point, in our society, full of constant distraction, noise and stimulation, it is incredibly difficult to be mindful for even a few minutes. And that is precisely why mindfulness is more than just meditation, that’s why it needs to be practiced daily to become part of who you are.
In short, mindfulness is just becoming aware. Nothing more, nothing less. You practice it in meditation, you practice it in your life, in your relationships and in everything you do. Then you become aware of the fact that the only thing that is real is the present moment. That can have a powerful impact on your life.
What Mindfulness means to me
“Sometimes your dear friend, though still the same person, feels more like an enemy. Instead of love, you feel hostility. But with genuine love and compassion, another person’s appearance or behavior has no effect on your attitude.” – The Dalai Lama
I fell into mindfulness whilst searching for answers to the many questions I was left with after my marriage ended after thirty years. It felt like everything had become a lie and very unreal. I started to question many things, not least how we can live without really being present. How we can let our lives slip by, day by day, never stopping to pay attention.
Ever since a very young age I’ve felt deep closeness to Buddhism. I never had a connection with my birth religion. When my marriage ended, I started delving deeper into the teachings, the time was right. I attended a Buddhist retreat in Nepal and still continue learning about Buddhism. I find the teachings incredibly healing and Mindfulness is firmly routed in the Buddhist teachings,
“paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non judgmentally, as if your life depended on it” – Jon Kabot Zin
At the heart of mindfulness is compassion. We first start with compassion for ourselves because without that, it is not possible to have compassion for others. In a society where we are taught to always be on the look out for something better, to be continuously developing, to be competing with everything and everyone, the last person we ever show compassion to is ourselves.
Mindfulness is all about letting yourself of the hook. It’s about total self acceptance and being aware of the thoughts that drive the behaviour.
I teach Mindfulness and have developed a personal style. I use my mindfulness practice when teaching people going through life transitions like divorce, separation and relationship problems.
You can read more about my journey into mindfulness on the About Me page.