In an earlier blog I have written about Mindset, what it is, how it affects your life and I tried to make you see how important it is to create one that is serving you in the best way possible. In this blog, I would like to stay on the same route but go a bit deeper in it, taking a step forward and talk about mindfulness. We can look at these things as mindset being the main, root of everything and mindfulness as being part of it that is like a tool that helps you to create the right mindset that is needed to live an extraordinary life, whatever that looks like for you.
Let me start with the meaning of the word. Mindfulness is a way, a tool towards reaching new mindset that can measurably alter your general attitude to life and your mood, as well. As Jon Kabat – Zinn said: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non – judgementally.” It is a mental state that is achieved by focusing your attention and your awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting whatever happenings, feelings, thoughts, and events you are experiencing without adding any judgement to them or creating a story around them.
Being mindful, as it is stated above, requires you to be aware. Be aware of what you are doing, what you are saying and be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Being aware means that you notice the internal and external happenings around you. You observe and have an objective quality of interaction with those happenings. It is when you notice your mind chatter, the conversation you are having within your head and you choose how you are interacting with it, you choose what thoughts the mind is developing. It is when you decide what story you are creating around a certain experience, what energies you are using to feed that. Negative or positive ones.
In case of awareness, we can talk about internal and external awareness. Internal is when you notice and observe the thoughts and feelings arising within you on a daily basis. The external awareness is about experiences you are having that are out of your control and external forces are creating them. Like when something is happening in your life. Being aware means literally to be aware of the present moment.
And that is another important aspect of mindfulness. To be in the present moment. Meaning, no matter what you are doing, even if it is cooking, cleaning, having a tea, taking a shower, and even chatting with a friend, your attention is focusing on that activity itself and nothing else. Simply said being and living in the present moment. Let me give you an example that I am sure happened with you. Think back of a time when you were cooking and whilst doing so you were thinking about the conversation or maybe the debate you had days / weeks / maybe even months ago with your spouse, family member, friend or even co – worker. You keep replaying that event over and over again in your head, trying to make sense of it, trying to justify something in it, maybe even wishing you would have said things differently or not at all and so on. All of these are happening in your head while you are not even realising what you are actually doing. You are cooking unconsciously. At the end, the meal will be done but you might not remember if you have added any salt at all to the soup or if you have added enough eggs to that dough to be made well. Realise through this example to the fact that whilst your physical body was in the present, your mind and your being was living and being in the past. You revisited and relived something that you cannot change. Being in the present is much harder than it seems because your mind is creating thoughts constantly, taking you from one to another within seconds. Most likely, these thoughts are putting your attention to the past or to the future that will create feelings like anxiety, fear, depression, or stress within your physical body. Thanks to your thoughts you start worrying about a future that never happened and might not happen that way or feeling frustrated, depresses and sad about past happenings that you cannot do anything about. This causes you being full of negative emotions and making you be everywhere but in the present. Everywhere but in the resent, the only place that you should focus on, though, to change things around.
Another very important factor of being mindful is being non – judgemental. Non – judgemental to yourself and to others, as well. Being judgemental is something that you adopt. You are not born with it. You learn to be judgemental due to your surroundings, society, media or due to anybody and anything, to be honest, that is affecting you from a very young age. When you are judging someone, it is because you are judging yourself, too. It is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Full on criticising yourself, not being satisfied with your achievements, being too harsh and critical to yourself no matter what you are doing or not doing, achieving or not achieving, being judgemental the way you are on the inside and on the outside. Very unhealthy habit to take on.
As, in the case of most negative feelings, the judgement is usually fear based. When you judge others, you do it because it appears that they are having something you wish to own, they seem having the qualities and skill you wish to have, you fear of being inadequate, you think you are not as good as the other person. You judge because you think that it will make you feel better about the situation or about yourself. But that is not true nor going to help you long term.
As I have mentioned above, judgement is something you learn. And if you can learn it, you can unlearn it by being aware of your thoughts, actions, and feelings and by being in the present and noticing where those are taking you. Basically, by having the right mindset and being mindful.
So, all in all, the three main pillars of mindfulness are being aware, being in the present and being non – judgemental. These things are simple, but they are not easy to apply in your life. Those old habits and beliefs that you have engraved within you, in your mind from the beginning are with you for a really long time. And getting rid of them, transform them is not easy. It requires time, dedication, and commitment. And effort. A lot of effort, especially at the beginning. You have to consciously focus on them to make sure that you are embodying them and using them accurately in your everyday life. But once you get the taste of what your life can be if you apply these things, once you learn what it is to be mindful, you will realise that you will not want to go back to the old ways and beliefs. Because you will get to see what a peaceful, and healthier life you can create for yourself just by being in the present and not just physically but mentally, as well.