You’ve heard the term used in books and videos. You’ve probably read about the studies which show how mindfulness can help with improved focus, better sleep, higher levels of energy, and much, much more.
But just what is mindfulness?
The key to being mindful is that one is aware, in a nonjudgmental way, of their thoughts and actions. Mindfulness isn’t something one practices at specific times, like signing up with a tennis coach. Rather, mindfulness is something that one strives to bring into all aspects of their waking life.
That is why mindfulness can become so powerful.
Mindfulness isn’t about aiming for a specific goal, like a hole-in-one in golf. Instead, mindfulness rewards the small, incremental gains that come with daily attention. We can be mindful while washing the dishes. While mowing the lawn. While talking with loved ones and while eating a meal.
It’s all about that gentle attention.
In our modern, go-go world it can become too easy to get caught up in the urgency of stress. To jump for a buzzing cellphone. To fume over a comment made by a family member. To grouse over things which should be different.
Mindfulness reminds us to pause. To observe. To see just why we are having the reaction we are experiencing.
If we are reaching for the tub of ice cream, we can pause to consider – nonjudgmentally – how we feel. Are we actually hungry for something cool, to counter the broiling heat? Or is it that a family member made a snide remark yet again about the way we choose to live our life? The key is to be compassionate with yourself. This isn’t about blame or guilt. It is simply about gently observing. About caring and understanding.
Maybe the family member is jealous that they never got a chance to pursue their dreams. Or maybe a solution is to find ways to interact with that person less. A solution to work toward could be to treat their comments with patient understanding. The words they say are about them and their inner turmoil – not about your path in life. You can acknowledge their right to their point of view without needing to take it on as your own.
We can only control the things we can control. For the rest, we need to learn to let them go.
It’s a simple concept but one which can take a lifetime to build skill in. The good news is that even small improvements in your mindfulness can bring rich rewards which improve just about every aspect of life.
Take that first step today. Gently observe. Quietly explore.