Mindfulness has been popular in mainstream media for a couple of years now, but the question I’m sure many people still have is what is it really? Is it waking up tired because you were out until too late last night and deciding to not go to work? Or is it sitting still for an hour counting your every breath and imagining that you’re in Bali? And to answer your question, no it is not.
Mindfulness is a teaching that comes from Zen Buddhism, dating back to 2500 years BC and the fundamental element of its philosophy consists of living life focused on the present moment. In our fast-paced world, we sometimes don’t have time to appreciate the little things, which usually are the ones that add the most value to our lives, such as the beauty of a sunset or the smile of a child. Practicing mindfulness allows you to slow down, create a space for yourself, your thoughts, and your plans for the future. In an interview with Wemby therapist Soraya Vivancos she states:
“Mindfulness is about being in the present moment, feeling all the internal events that occur within the person, such as emotions, thoughts, and sensations.”
Unlike what you’ve previously heard about it, mindfulness doesn’t require any expenses, spa bookings, or trips ‘to find your zen’, instead, it’s all about helping yourself play a bigger role in your own life. However, it is not something you can feel the effects of immediately either. It requires some patience in order to learn how to correctly integrate it into your daily habits.
One important aspect of mindfulness is evidently, meditation. However, meditation is not about fighting with your mind to keep it blank, instead, it’s about accepting yourself as you are. One of the most common misconceptions about meditation is that your mind must be empty. That is difficult to do because our minds are always jumping from thought to thought. When meditating, you should attempt to guide your thoughts instead of trying to harness them. Soraya provides us with more insight, saying:
Mindfulness is experiencing things that you don’t like. It’s feeling the tension that you have, identifying certain things that you feel in your body. That is, identifying what happens to your body at all times, in order to have more information and tools when it comes to handling different situations. In the end, emotions are signals that help us to improve as human beings and understand ourselves better. Emotions are neither good nor bad, they are always good because they always bring valuable information to us.
While meditating try to not judge yourself because this is your time to be in a judgement-free zone. Gather your focus onto your breath, as you think about yourself sitting down, accepting yourself, and paying attention to the moment you are in.
Another problem people have with mindfulness is that they think it will immediately improve their life. This thinking is incorrect since any change requires time, perseverance, and readjustments in previous patterns. According to Soraya, it’s about “investing in certain patterns that we do not have incorporated in our day-to-day life.” Stop doing many tasks at the same time, put aside the need for haste and pay attention with all your senses to what you have to do. By doing this, you will see changes in your day-to-day efficiency and reductions in anxiety. By slowing down your pace you can pay attention and appreciate the little things in life that bring you peace.
Mindfulness can be exhibited in a wide range of simple activities such as dishwashing, showering, or going for a walk. However, the action that makes these activities helpful is your mindset. Most of the time, we avoid the feelings that annoy us; we lock them up never to be seen again and they hurt us long term. By being mindful, present, and contemplative, you allow yourself to truly feel what you need to feel. This allows you to be more in touch with yourself and therefore live a freer life.
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