Mindfulness, it is becoming a more common term every day. But what is it, and why does it matter?
Mindfulness is not a practice that was started somewhere over the last few decades. It has its origins in Buddhism and goes back as far as the 1th century CE. In Buddhism Mindfulness, or Sati, is one of the 7 factors of enlightenment.
So what exactly is ‘mindfulness’? Mindfulness is the practice of having your awareness in the moment.
That sounds easy enough right? Don’t we all have awareness in the moment? Not exactly.
Take this for an example. Imagine you are in a room with a very good friend. Your friend is telling you about something they went through recently, and you are listening. Next moment though, your friend asks a question and you cannot bring it into context, as your mind took you on a trip to your to-do list for the rest of the day.
You were there in the room, your friend was right in front of you, and maybe he or she experienced your conversation very mindful, you however, not so.
If you would have approached this same situation in a mindful way, you would have been fully aware of when your mind started wandering, and you would have been able to bring it back to focus on your friend, your conversation and hopefully, your cup of tea.
Our minds are amazing things, we can create anything we want in our minds.
This can be really great when we are in love and we are thinking about being together with our partner and the feelings that come with that. It can be less great when a challenge crosses our path and we feel lame from fear because we imagined ourselves go through the most terrible outcomes.
Practising mindfulness allows us to create some ‘quiet time’ for ourselves.
Whatever we manifest in our future hasn’t happened yet, and better yet, might never happen.
So, if you are the ‘worrier’, mindfulness allows you to free yourself from worry. This is because generally, there is no worry in the present moment. Worry comes from what we think might happen next. If you worry, you are living in the future.
We can hold ourselves back with fear, hurt and anger that we carry with us from the past.
Say that when you were a child and someone close to you told you that you were never going to succeed at what you set out to do, because you were simply too dumb. You might still be carrying this fear, hurt or anger with you. If an opportunity arises in the here and now and your mind is still in the past, with your inner child, you might actually stop yourself from taking the opportunity, telling yourself you will not succeed. The mindful way however is to see the opportunity and with your full awareness realize what it brings to your life before taking it up.
Note that mindfulness is not about ignoring limiting emotions such as fear, hurt and anger, but to acknowledge them and let them move on. We are all human beings and as long as we are in this human body we will have negative feelings and thoughts at times, there is nothing wrong with that.
Acceptance is a big part of mindfulness. If we want to bring our full awareness into the present we must fully acknowledge and accept who and where we are. This again, is easier said than done. I will talk about acceptance and inner peace in a next blog.
So, what mindfulness can bring to our life is quiet time. Time without worry, fear, hurt or anger. Also, it brings us the opportunity to acknowledge where we are in life and grow from it.
Talking about opportunity, opportunities come to us in the here and now, life happens in the here and now. If you are in the here and now, who knows what treasure you will find right in front of you.