Week 25 | Everyone is Talking About It, What is Mindfulness?
Whether you think all this wellness stuff is too fluffy or that the science behind it is too complicated to comprehend so why care, you have got to admit we all need a major dose of less doing, more being.
Let that sink in for a second; less doing, more being.
It’s lonely, I am lonely. There is an increased air of numbness when it comes to our interactions and relationships in life and online. We are all talking to each other, but no one is listening. You’ll try to say or express something and it gets diluted in the noise or it gets buried beneath because of how fast our lives move nowadays. It’s mid-June! Were we all not just toasting to the new year?? Time is flying.
What I speak about this week is not measurable so it will be hard to give you data to support my evidence and argument, but bear with me.
The Definition of Mindfulness
A quick search on google gives 2 beautiful definitions of mindfulness:
The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
“You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work, and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that flower is it yet in bloom?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. It is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness” (Help Guide).
How to Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness means you are in depthly aware of how you feel internally and you are exactly aware of what is going on around you. While meditation and yoga certainly help you attain this sense, Oprah in an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow for Goop, explains how to incorporate mindfulness throughout your day;
“Eckhart Tolle told me this, if you have never meditated a day in your life, the greatest meditation is actually being able to live in the present moment - when you can just be fully present. For me it’s a conscious working model to stay fully present here and now and i practice it; If i am at the sink I am putting a cup in the sink, I am walking down the stairs, I am walking up the stairs, i am in that moment conscious that my hand is on the railing, one foot is in front of the other, wow my legs are moving - everyday this has happened for all the years of life, I can’t believe my body is still functioning this way, isn't this great! I am aware of that. I am fully just there” (Goop).
Ok Great Got It, But Why Should We Practice Mindfulness in the First Place?
The science shows that practicing mindfulness can help, “relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties”, it improves mental health and overall well being (Help Guide).
For me mindfulness helps slow down time. We revere speed and multitasking, to the point where you can get home from a long day and not even know who you saw, what you did, what you felt, what you tasted, what you smelled - it is as if we are floating through life, not taking in moments.
Mindfulness grounds you. I recently went to a retreat upstate and the chefs of Present Plate Supper Club prepared our meals and taught us the practice of mindfulness through food. Before we sat to eat, they would tell us about the ingredients and where our food came from, they told us to observe our hunger and how it made us feel, what emotions hunger spurred in us - were we anxious to get to eating already? Did we realize that many people were going to bed hungry tonight? They served us conscious meats, chicken and fish, but before we dove in for a bite we gave thanks to their lives and sacrifice to feed us. They told us about the herbs picked that afternoon from the field outside our window, that the cocoa was brought in from Guatemala and so on.
It allowed me to pause and be grateful for what was in front of me, I ate slower, took time to smell the food and enjoy each swallow. I left the woods with the intention of incorporating this way of eating in my day to day and it has worked to slow down time in other parts of my life too.
In general, mIndfulness works to increase your appreciation for life and it ups happiness and health. How do you practice it day to day?