The word ‘mindfulness’ is everywhere these days and everyone, including our Happy Buddha team, is encouraging you to be more mindful. But what does it mean to be mindful? And why is it important?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment without judgement. When you are mindful, you are paying attention to the sensations in your body, your surroundings, your actions, your thoughts and your feelings as they come, but you don’t get attached to any of them or label them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
What does that look like on a normal morning? You wake up in the morning and notice how it feels to be awake. Maybe, you are full of energy and ready to jump out of bed. Or you are still tired and you feel a tightness around your left shoulder. Either way, it’s ok. You see the sunlight streaming through your window. You hear the birds singing.
As you are eating the breakfast, you appreciate the taste and the texture. You breathe in the smell of freshly ground coffee. You notice how your body reacts to each item on your plate. You know when you’ve had enough to eat.
When thoughts come, you acknowledge them but you don’t allow them to grow into imaginary stories. You take the information that you need right now, make a note about anything that might come useful later and let the thought go.
Experience more of life
Through mindfulness, you enjoy sights, sounds, sensations and connections that would otherwise go unnoticed. You see the blooming jacaranda tree outside your window. You take in your child’s laughter. You connect with the person who smiles at you on the way to work. There is so much more to life than the world we’ve built inside our heads, and through mindfulness you get to enjoy it all.
See more possibilities
When you’re absorbed in your own thoughts and stories, you automatically keep on making the choices that you’ve made in the past. You’ll always take the same road to work, eat the same food, read the same kind of books, shop at the same place. Because your mind is busy, you don’t have the capacity to evaluate any other possibilities, so your subconscious chooses what has already proven itself to be safe. You can’t make a new choice, if you are not aware that it exists.
Once you become more present and stop giving your thoughts so much power, all of a sudden, you discover that there are more choices than what you knew, and they are easily accessible.
Claim your power
With that awareness, also comes the power to choose. You pick a certain type of food, drink or exercise, because this is what your body is asking for. You talk to the friendly stranger that you didn’t even notice before and gain a new friend. You make a career change rather than continue with the same joyless job you’ve had for the last five years. You make choices that are right for you in each moment, no matter what you or others have chosen in the past. Your life is no longer on autopilot.
Is mindfulness worth the effort? You get to choose!
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.