Many people ask me what mindfulness is. With the rise in popularity, I have made it my passion to try and explain what it is and why we should practice it. Using some examples of my own life experiences, I plan to dive in and share what mindfulness is and how you can incorporate into your daily life. Mindfulness is a way of looking at things differently and allows a way for you to relate to all of the experiences in your life which may be causing you to suffer. This, in turn, will allow you to personally transform yourself. When journeying through the highs and lows of life, I have had time to think back and reflect what has got me through, it has been mindfulness.
We, as humans, are constantly looking for ways to solve the causes of our suffering and then discover how we can alleviate it. I’ve started introducing mindfulness as a way of finding clarity in moments of chaos. Chaos can be something minor (ie. a traffic jam) or major (ie. the sudden loss of a loved one, or even a global epedemic).
Sooner or later you end up asking yourself questions such as: “Why don’t I feel better?” or “Is there something I can do or something that is prescribed so it makes the pain go away.” No one wants to be on pills for the rest of their life. Though I believe that medication does have a time and place in some cases. As we age (and sometimes throughout your whole life) you can suffer from illness. Sickness, old age and death usually expose us to pain. Through my research, I have found that pain is the surface tension for the body to alarm our whole self that something is off balance. I have suffered from back pain every year due to softball, yet I know these issues are from the deep subconscious. Even this past week I had a minor spasm, as the week unfolded I knew this was quilt related grief that was surfacing in a weak spot of the body. I hit my own “reset” button which includes deep breathing, meditation, stretching etc. Mindfulness is about hitting the ‘re-set” button. You can hit it as many times as you need in order for you to see the clarity through whatever chaos is unfolding along your path.
Throughout your life, you can struggle emotionally when you are confronted with adverse circumstances. When you don’t get what you want in life, if you suffer from great loss or have to deal with things you don’t want to deal with you are constantly seeking ways to feel better. Mindfulness is a 2500-year-old tradition of Buddhist psychology. Mindfulness has to be experienced directly. Especially if you are teaching or sharing content to others (like myself). I try my best to practice it as part of my daily routine. My partner has even helped me when I suffer in low mental moments on how to begin my day with gratitude. I’m not perfect by any means, I’m human just like everyone else. Sometimes I’m mindful of when I’m the teacher, and when I am a student myself. Mindfulness comes from within because it is intuitive and pre-conceptual. This is why I always say, mindfulness doesn’t prevent you from facing trials and tribulations in life. Mindfulness is about finding clarity in the midst of chaos.
With practice over time, you can figure out how to become more and more mindful in your everyday life. Mindfulness can help even if you are in the middle of significant suffering. Mindfulness has been compared to a deeply personal journey of discovery. What I love is creating different ways we can be mindful. Yoga or meditation may not be for everyone. That is okay. To experience the journey of discovery is the fun part!
Mindfulness is meant to bring about awareness, attention, and remembering. Awareness means becoming aware and fully enjoying and appreciating the things around you no matter how small it is. From enjoy a lovely cup of coffee (one of my favourite things to do) or a wonderful drive along a dirt road. You can find your ways to become mindful at the moment.
When you are attentive, it means that you are participating in focused awareness. That means that you are aware of what is occurring within and around you. When you participate in this “awareness” you can begin to free yourself from mental preoccupation and difficult emotions. Being aware that this may or may not be positive is okay.
The true purpose of mindfulness is to rid yourself of needless suffering. It’s unfortunately how our minds, sometimes, are our own worst enemies. How do you do this? You do this by becoming aware and cultivating insights into how your mind works and the meaning of everything in the material world we live in. You are looking for ways to calm your mind and bring peace to your world.
Through Mindfulness, you are re-training your mind in order to manage it. Mindfulness allows you to develop other mental qualities including concentration, loving/kindness, effort and becoming more alert. It took me years of practice so that I may understand how I could step back away from the hospital bed, and understand the greater perspective. In that moment of “chaos”, I was able to remember my breathing techniques while waiting for the doctors to come in. I was then able to listen to my intuition and know that my husband was needed in other places other than this realm.
Mindfulness is not an end-all or doorway to happiness but it can provide you with the foundation you need to build those skills. Which is why I said, it’s not about eliminating the trials and tribulations but finding clarity. I’m not here to pretend, things happen in life.
By allowing yourself to get rid of habits in your mind that can cause you unhappiness the result will be letting go of anger, envy, greed or other harmful behaviours that serve no purpose. It may take some time. But a constant practice of mindfulness will help you along your path.
Mindfulness brings about self-acceptance and self-understanding. We bring upon ourselves unwanted emotional and behavioural problems simply by trying to avoid discomfort and throwing ourselves into some other sort of change-seeking activity. I always consider this kind of training as a guide in helping people find their centre or compassion and self-healing.