Mindfulness is a word that we hear a lot these days. There are apps, websites and books devoted to cultivating mindfulness … but what does that mean? Is it really that complicated? And why would we want to practice it? According to mindful.org, “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses; it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.”
These days we are all busy and it can feel like we are pulled in so many directions at once that we lose sight of what is happening here and now. When our minds take flight in this way, we lose touch with our bodies, our emotions and with each other. This can lead to anxiety, worrying about the future, catastrophizing, and it can steal the joy that is present in the moment we are actually in.
Developing a mindfulness practice has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, increase our own insight and awareness, and enhance our performance of everyday activities. It also helps us develop deeper relationships with others and ourselves.
How can we begin to be more mindful? The key ingredient to mindfulness is remembering it is already within us — it may just need to be dusted off and given some attention. Mindfulness is being present in the moment, in your body, with the task at hand. Mindfulness can be practiced while walking, sitting or moving. Examples include walking in nature and focusing on what is around you — the sounds, the smells, the feel of the air on your skin; sitting in meditation for as little as five minutes or sitting and breathing deeply for one minute a few times a day; gardening or doing yoga or another physical activity and being aware of how you feel and where you are.
As I write this blog, I am more in tune with what I am actually doing, noticing how I am feeling, and letting myself become completely absorbed in this moment. It’s been a while since I’ve been mindful, and it feels really good! I’d love to hear about your experiences and how your mindfulness practice has impacted you.