Introduction to Mindfulness
“Mindfulness” has become a buzzword in the last several years. Lots of people have heard it but few know how to be mindful. So let’s start with what mindfulness is NOT in order to better describe what it is!
Mindfulness is NOT:
- Clearing your mind
- Thinking positively
- Inherently religious
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the moment on purpose and without judgement. How many of you are like me and can be quick to judge an experience as either good or bad? I say “good OR bad” because you can be unmindful and positive at the same time. Confusing right? Well, not really. At the basis of being mindful is simply noticing or observing your own experiences.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re waiting for a table in a restaurant lobby. What are you doing? Checking your phone? Complaining that the hostess sat someone who came in after you? A mindful response in this situation would be to notice your hunger or boredom, but not judge it (don’t complain about it, for example) and not try to make it go away. Just experience it. That’s it! Once you do that, you can learn to live in that moment rather than in your thoughts and feelings.
Being Mindful of the Moment
Life occurs in the moments we aren’t paying attention to. Mindfulness helps bring you back to those moments. Mindfulness is about living 100% in the here and now – no clearing your mind required.
People often tell me, “I don’t need to work on mindfulness. If anything, I’m too mindful. My brain never shuts off.” But overthinking is not mindfulness! Just as clearing your mind would be the opposite of being mindful of the moment, so is overthinking.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the moment on purpose and without judgement.
Consider this: You got into a fight with someone you’re close to earlier in the day. Later, you go out to dinner with your best friend. Are you listening to anything he or she is saying? Or are you caught up in in your head about the fight from earlier? By definition, you aren’t in the moment and therefore aren’t being mindful.
When David and I got married, our officiant told us to really focus on one another when we said our vows. I have passed that advice down to all my friends who have gotten married since. Why? Because it is so easy to get caught up in your thoughts and feelings and forget to pay attention to all the individual moments of the day! Therefore, it is possible to be unmindful of even the wonderful things in life.
There are lots of benefits to practicing mindfulness. For starters, here is a short list of how being mindful can improve your overall well-being.
- Lowers stress
- Improves self-awareness
- Improves job performance
- Reduces overeating
- Improves mood
- Enhances relationships
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Improves memory and attention
- Helps with sleep
Are you sold yet?!
Mindful Mondays is a new series I’m starting that will bring mindfulness to you each week. We will talk about to be mindful, how to increase your awareness, how to use mindfulness to gain self-confidence, Mini Mindful Moments, and more! Do you have questions about what it means to be mindful? Leave me a comment and I’ll write about it!