More recently, mindfulness applies to a range of meanings – be it eating, working, birthing, parenting, or stress-relieving. It’s a lifestyle and a social revolution. A slow, grass-roots revolution that started thousands of years ago. Now led by world leaders, from Michael Jordan to Ray Dalio, have made mindfulness their own. It’s no longer a behind-the-scenes part of a successful person’s lifestyle, it’s at the forefront of many companies. The benefits of an attentive mindset, enhanced emotional intelligence and concentration to the task at hand is attractive to those who want to succeed in their life’s work.
Mindfulness means to pay attention to things as they actually are, in any given moment. It’s awareness that emerges from paying attention, intentionally, to the present moment without judging. Is that a mouthful?
There are 2 paths to mindfulness – passive and active. The passive way includes meditation, stillness in thought and quietude to achieve mindfulness. The active way involves proactive thinking. The goal is to have fresh thinking, enhance creativity and sharpen the experience of flavors of life. Much like a tourist on holiday might notice details that locals ignore. When we’re learning or in unfamiliar territory, we are more open to different perspectives and less fixed in our thinking.
What Mindfulness Isn’t
- Mindfulness doesn’t mean not thinking or running from stress. Stress is a natural part of life. Chronic stress isn’t. Mindfulness aims to bring sharper and more original thinking to your problems. Mindfulness strategies can prime the mind for rational and analytical thinking, along with the ability to handle stressful situations with equanimity and therefore, emotional stability.
So… What is Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness is Intentional: by contract, rumination and worrying about the past or what someone said to us the other day, is automatic and reactionary. When something triggers us and we allow it to sweep our mood, it is being lost in thought. This unawareness to present reality is opposite to mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is Experiential: Have you ever been in love and felt joy in the present moment of holding someone’s hand for the first time? The only thing we can think of is how special that moment of holding hands is, how warm the touch feels and every change in pressure. Mindfulness is the experience of the moment. The contrast is being lost in thought. where we are preoccupied with something that never even happened and are far from the direct sensory experience. Rumination propels us into the past or future, where we are often worrying or fantasizing.
- Mindfulness is Non-Judgmental: Mindfulness doesn’t make up narratives about the way things should be or stories about why things should change. The virtue is that we are observing things the way they already are. Instead of evaluating if something measures up to our or other people’s standards. The practise allows us to be unattached to a particular outcome, where we could be prone to living life irritably if things don’t go our way. Practicing mindfulness, we can show self-compassion and be at peace with our emotions.