Mindfulness is about falling awake, connecting with ourselves, and savouring the fullness of each moment of our lives; or you could say – living consciously…
Mindfulness – Awake – Alert – Alive – Amazed
It is increasingly recognised as an effective way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence, and effectively deal with painful thoughts and feelings as well as profoundly develop psychological and emotional resilience, and ‘joie de vivre’.
Jon Kabat-Zinn’s defination is:
“The Awareness that arises …. by paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
So, let’s look at that a bit closer
1. Paying Attention – in a particular way – non-judgementally
Well, that’s new! Normally, we make instantaneous judgments all day everyday. We walk into a room and categorise everything and everyone. But, this tendency closes down our experience of ‘really seeing’ so mindfulness advocates that we ‘remain open’. It is not a passive state. In fact, this openness helps us to be more discerning but see more deeply.
2. Paying Attention ‘On Purpose’
Well, that’s new too! So, instead of our normal ‘multitask’ way of being, we are asked to deliberately notice whatever our experience is or what we are doing. WOW, that can be difficult, to stay present with all the sensations and our responses to those sensations. We really start to see how much the mind wanders and how distracted our attention normally is.
This purposefulness is important because like going to the gym and lifting weights builds physical fitness and muscle, this purposefully bringing our attention back each time the mind wanders builds something…it actively trains and steadies the mind. So, our normal tendency to fall into reactivity and automatic pilot while we are ‘lost’ in thought or ‘virtual reality’ looses its hold.
3. Paying Attention ‘in the Present Moment’
When we start to ‘pay attention’, it’s a big surprise to learn that mostly our thoughts are not about now but about the past or future. We tend to ruminate about the past, “oh, I should not have said that!, what will they think” or whatever or we are making future plans – night’s out/holidays, will I? Won’t I?. But, of course the future is just a fantasy until it happens and the past is already gone and cannot be changed so the only moment that really matters is now. It’s the only time we can actually experience anything — to love, to act, to change… right here and now yet it is the one moment we seem most to avoid.
In mindfulness we’re concerned with noticing what’s going on right now and living it fully!
This blog was written by Joanne O’Malley, Mindfulness at Work.