What Is Mindfulness?
We talk about it all the time. It has inspired whole movements in the workplace, in school, in almost every aspect of our day-to-day life. But what does it even mean? What is mindfulness?
The answer to that question is simple and small. So small, in fact, that we easily miss its significance. And as a result we lose track of how powerful and important it is. Because mindfulness is such a small and almost invisible practice we can lose sight of how affective and influential it can be in our lives. Yet mindfulness is vital to really living and engaging with life.
Mindfulness asks us to be here. Now.
Being mindful is about about being aware of what’s going on in this moment. The actions we are undertaking, the thoughts we are thinking, and the things the we are doing. Being mindful means being aware of what’s happening right now, in this moment. And in doing so it gives us perspective.
To be mindful means to pause, and to look, and to see what’s happening, without prejudice. It asks us to understand the input before we deliver the output. It demands, with no apology, that we consider the facts before we act upon them. It says that, yes, under normal circumstances we would allow this person’s activities, this situation, this particular set of events, to trigger a reaction within us. But it begs us to wait a moment and give all the information the attention it deserves before we choose a response.
Mindfulness asks that we chew our food. That we spend a moment to appreciate its textures and its flavours before we swallow it down. It asks that we take off our shoes and really feel the new carpet beneath our feet. It challenges us to assess the situation before we respond. It asks us if being right is really better than being at peace.
Mindfulness asks us to challenge our assumptions and look at the facts. Before we try and find meaning, it asks us to pause and consider what’s really happening. It challenges our perspective and asks us to look again before we decide.
Being mindful gives us tools to challenge those baseless fears that have so much influence upon us. It gives us the objectivity to see through our self-imposed propaganda. It asks us to compare the fears that we have generated in our heads with the small collection of facts that we know for sure.
Mindfulness says stop. It says savour. It says listen. It says look around you and don’t believe the narrative that your insecure mind is attempting to overlay upon reality. It says these are the facts, this is what’s real, this is what we know for sure, everything else is conjecture.
To be mindful is to be present. It is to appreciate the smells and the sounds that are happening right now, without trying to decipher what is causing them, or what their significance is. To be mindful is to embrace simplicity. All we know is what we know, and to extrapolate any further meaning is an action that draws on our imagination, not a thing that is real.
Be here now. Be mindful. Be aware of the facts. Be aware of your thoughts. Be aware of the narrative that may not be true. And be free. Let anything that isn’t real, anything that is a construct of your imagination, be. Let it be. Let it go.
Chew your food. Savour it. Enjoy the textures. Taste the flavours. Feel the ground under your feet. Choose to focus only on what you know for sure, and not what you perceive to be between the lines. Nothing is implied, nothing is inferred. Nothing is real unless it is real. Anything else is false. Let it go.
The future hasn’t happened yet, so worrying about it is futile. The past has been and gone, so worrying about it is futile. Learn from it, acknowledge it, but don’t ever think that you can change it. Be here now. Breathe the air. Do the thing.
When we are mindful there is no room for fear. Fear and worry are based upon assumptions about something unreal that hasn’t happened yet. When we are mindful we choose to act upon those things we know for sure, and not those things that have gone before or which haven’t happened yet. When we are mindful we are operating from a platform of objectivity. There is no shame in mindfulness. No anxiety. No room to be self-conscious. No time to be afraid.
Being mindful asks us to be aware of who we are. It says these are our weaknesses, and we accept that because there isn’t any room for pride or ego. It says these are our strengths, and we accept it without arrogance. And as a result we find the strength to grow stronger and better.
In mindfulness we find the energy to understand our potential, and the space to reach towards it. We are here, now. We enjoy the sun as it shines upon us, rather than fearing the rain forecast for tomorrow. We bring an umbrella for later, but we refuse to let tomorrow’s downpours spoil todays sunshine.
Mindfulness is a position from where we can view what has been and what will come, without allowing either of those things spoil what is right now. Mindfulness is where we are. It’s where we’ll always be, and unless we are operating from that space, we will always be focusing our attention of a place that either doesn’t exist yet, or is long gone.
To be mindful means to be here. To be aware of who we are. Of the thoughts in our head. Of the emotions we are feeling. Of the food we are tasting. Of the work that we are doing. Of the space we are occupying. And to understand that we are separate from them, but that we are connected to them.
And to be mindful means to understand that this is all fleeting, so you must relish where you are right now. Because you’ll never be here again, and in this moment are all the world’s riches, and abundance and contentment. In a moment it will be gone, replaced with something else. So appreciate it now. Right now.
So take note. Breathe it in. Chew your food. Be here now. And then move along.