What is Mindfulness?
It is probably the case that you have heard the term mindfulness. In fact it is becoming a term that is hard to escape. Although perhaps that is synonymous with the fact that we can’t really escape the need for it either, living in a world with more and more pressure, with a million comparisons, judgments and expectations at our finger tips, and a growing trend of this society expectant of instant gratification and nothing less. But what is mindfulness? What does that one simple word mean and how can it mean so little to some and so much to others?
To quote myself as written in my book Mind Body Bowl: Put simply, being mindful is being aware of the present moment and having a conscious understanding and acceptance of the way that we feel. I guess the thing to realise is that a mindfulness practice doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to us all and while some people consciously commit to a specific format or exercise that allows them to connect with themselves in a certain way, for others, there may be a subconscious mindfulness practice that we include in our daily habits without even realising or planning.
And that is exactly it. Just like with all labels and defining terms, we tend to associate rules, restrictions and expectations to a certain practice or ideology but really the power of being mindful, and actually the fundamental essence of the whole concept, is about cultivating a greater sense of self-awareness. That isn’t something that anyone else can dictate – it is something that we have to develop, learn and figure out for ourselves.
Of course there are guidelines to help us on that journey (apps such as Headspace, keeping a gratitude journal, mediation, yoga) but really all of these things are tools to help us find something that we can resonate with on a personal level and thus feel a little more aware, connected and…mindful.
So there is no one meaning of mindfulness in my mind, nor is there one idealistic way to develop a mindfulness practice. But the one thing that I am fairly sure of around this topic is that it is incredibly valuable for each of us and one that I would strongly encourage you to consider or continue to develop.
How do you guys feel about Mindfulness? What practices have you tried? What does it mean to you? I’d love to open the conversation on this and hear your thoughts.