It seems like the word “mindful” has become a buzzword lately, perhaps in response to the cacophony of everyday life. We all need a mindful moment break, right? But what does “being mindful” really mean? And can we only truly achieve it by retreating to a Himalayan cave or can it be incorporated into our digitally-focused lives?
From Psychology Today:
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
Mindfulness meditation is moment to moment awareness. It is being fully awake. It involves being here for the moments of our lives, without striving or judging.
Bringing our fullness of attention into anything is mindfulness. You step fully into the moment. There is a sense of completeness, of enough-ness. These are the moments of our lives when we feel most at home.
Mindfulness involves a formal practice and an informal practice. In formal practice we take time for sitting meditation or mindful movement practices like walking meditation or yoga or chi gong. Informal practice is a way of life in which we meditate as we do what we do. It involves being present IN the moments of our lives.
Contemplating what mindful means brings me to one of my favorite quotes:
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
My personal definition of mindfulness is expressed by that speech that lays at the center of our soul; a recognition of the Self – a heard answer of the essence of our intentions and not the chatter that precedes it. A spaciousness of mind is required … an aware intake of breath that brings us into the exact present moment. It is a crystallization of awareness and appreciation of the magic and blessings of life’s being-ness. Mindfulness is precious union with Goddess breath that brings us into alignment within and without. Lastly, mindfulness is hard work and a practice that should be undertaken many, many times in a day.
Through mindful questioning, meditation, yoga, spiritual journeywork and striving to make mindfulness a practice, we can increase our gratitude, reduce our stress levels, lessen the cacophony and achieve all of those states that sometimes seem elusive: joy, wonder, peace, harmony, creativity. I have to work hard at mindfulness – my busy brain loves to leap and shout and point and range far and wide. In those moments that I have achieved a true mindful state … well, those are ones that I hold sacred and they keep me working on the spaciousness and allowance required to be mindful as often as possible.
How do you invite mindfulness into your daily life?
Jennifer Louden – The Life Organizer – A book that emphasizes mindful questions until it is a habit. SO GOOD and has quite simply changed my life and my inner dialogue for the better in so many ways.
Fruitflesh – Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write by Gayle Brandeis
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown – Brene Brown shares Dr. Neff’s work on running the Self-Compassion Research Lab. Dr. Neff believes (and Brene expands on) that self-compassion has three elements: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.
As I said, our habits are strong, so a certain discipline is required to step outside our cocoon and receive the magic of our surroundings. The pause practice—the practice of taking three conscious breaths at any moment when we notice that we are stuck—is a simple but powerful practice that each of us can do at any given moment.
Pause practice can transform each day of your life. It creates an open doorway to the sacredness of the place in which you find yourself. The vastness, stillness, and magic of the place will dawn upon you, if you let your mind relax and drop for just a few breaths the storyline you are working so hard to maintain. If you pause just long enough, you can reconnect with exactly where you are, with the immediacy of your experience.
When you are waking up in the morning and you aren’t even out of bed yet, even if you are running late, you could just look out and drop the storyline and take three conscious breaths. Just be where you are! When you are washing up, or making your coffee or tea, or brushing your teeth, just create a gap in your discursive mind. Take three conscious breaths. Just pause. Let it be a contrast to being all caught up. Let it be like popping a bubble. Let it be just a moment in time, and then go on.