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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a word being thrown around a lot recently. Yet there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what it is.

To be mindful, in very general terms, is to be aware. Take away the notion of some miracle healing state of mind, or spiritual ‘be present’ type mantra for a moment. Imagine walking with a friend down a busy road, it’s the middle of winter and there are snow and ice, cars are flying past, and there are a hundred men in business suits scuttling by with coffees. As you’re both about to cross a busy street, your friend turns to you and says, “be mindful of that ice on the step, could be dangerous.” What does that mean to you? It means to be aware of the ice, take notice of it, don’t let it escape you or you might suffer the repercussions. That’s being mindful.

It’s not meditation and there is nothing wrong with meditation, you don’t need to sit with your legs crossed and you don’t need to focus on your breath. You only need to be aware — and to be aware, you need to be present.

Mindfulness: Where to Start

If there is one prerequisite to being mindful, it’s that you need to be ‘in the moment’ if you’re going to notice the goings-on around you. You can’t be off daydreaming, thinking of upcoming meetings or why you didn’t get any like on your past FB post and still be aware.

You can only focus on one word at a time—the one outside your head, or the one within it.

In our busy day-to-day lives, we rarely have time to reflect on how we are reacting, deflecting, projecting or doing what we do to cope with the challenge.

Here are the 3 key ways we use as a tool to positively retrain our reactions to challenging:

1. RECOGNISE

I take a moment to ask myself: What do I feel physical? Locked jaw, scrunched eyebrows, shallow or held breath.
What is my mental chatter saying? I’m bad at this, everyone can do it but me, I give up. What do I feel emotional? Frustration, embarrassment, and unworthiness.

2. RELEASE

After recognising my current state I choose to let it go. I take a conscious, clearing breath in through my nose and sigh it out through my mouth. With this mindful moment, I symbolically push the pause button.
In this timeless space I’ve created, I make the choice to change.

3. REFORM

I take a moment to ask myself: How can I shift my physicality toward ease? I unhinge my jaw, soften my gaze, and deepen my breath.

How can I talk to myself the way I would a friend? I tell myself I’m learning a new language, body language, and that no one learns a new language overnight. Also, I encourage myself to be playful and view my falling over as a chance to get back up. Then I remind myself that it’s not a competition; it’s an opportunity to nurture my personal potential.

Mindfulness is said to have originated 2,600 years ago from the Eastern part of the world. Specifically, Buddha asked how he could free himself “from the pain of the world?” – A question that many of us ask throughout our lives. Buddha found mindfulness to be the answer. But don’t worry you don’t have to be spiritual or a Buddhist to practice mindfulness.

Why should I try mindfulness? That’s for you to decide!

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