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. 

Originally, mindfulness was a Buddhist practice concerned with being present. In our fast-paced world, we sometimes don’t have time to appreciate the beauty of a sunset or the laughter of our friends and family. Practising 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 whatever you need to feel.”

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 simply not true because you cannot achieve it. 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. 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. This is like a fever, nobody likes to have a fever, but it is a signal that ‘there is something wrong’.

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 because the process of adjusting your lifestyle to give yourself pockets of peace is from what you benefit most. According to Soraya, it’s about “investing in certain patterns that are different from what we’re doing today.” 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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