Sometimes I feel like I’ve had it up to hear with mindfulness, since it’s become the new buzz word in the arena of personal growth. When something is pushed so hard in my field I tend to get disinterested, and start looking for another way to think about the concept.
Mindfulness is not necessarily a quality, it’s a state of being and a practice. We all aspire to be mindful, but it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to be this way all the time.
Sometimes we can feel discouraged or bad because we aspire to master something that isn’t meant to be mastered. If we were all perfectly mindful we wouldn’t need to learn how to do this.
Mindfulness is a tool and it can be particularly helpful in times of high anxiety, life transition, heartbreak, and when things become frenetic.
Mindfulness is an essential practice for a million reasons. It reduces stress, allows you to be more productive, and it can make life a lot more manageable.
If you think about all the times you’re not being mindful you’ll realize how much you don’t take in, and maybe don’t even notice.
How many times have you been with someone while they’re talking only to realize you’ve completely not heard what they’ve been saying? Or how many times have your kids tried telling you something while you’re focused on something else? Or how about those times when you drive somewhere and you can’t remember how you got to your destination?
These are hijacking moments in time where you’re robbed of being present with your experience by your brain.
What would happen if you really focused, got present, and truly paid attention in the moment? No only would you feel more connected, but the people in your life would benefit to.
Mindfulness is simply being present in the moment without distraction and without being pulled to the past or present. It’s as simple as that. What it does require (like all the other practices) is a commitment and intention.
Here’s a three step process to practicing mindfulness:
1. Name what you’re doing. If you’re driving, say “I’m driving”. If you’re doing dishes, say “I’m doing dishes.” This will help you get focused on the task at hand by putting what your doing in the forefront of your mind.
2. Set an intention right before you’re action. If you’re about to meet a friend for lunch set an intention that you’ll be present and mindful. If you’re walking into the house from work, set an intention that you’ll be present with your children and partner.
3. Bring it back to the present when you get pulled away. Your thoughts are going to get the better of you, so gently say “there I go again” and bring your focus back to the moment.
This is a simple concept but a hard practice so be gentle with yourself. We all have to work on this daily, but you’ll find that it provides immediate results and it will deepen your connection with yourself and everyone around you.
Dr. Andra Brosh October 6th, 2014