Mindfulness isn’t a complicated theory or a deep spiritual practice reserved for Buddhists or mystics. Practicing mindfulness is natural, simple and accessible to us all. All we need to is our body, an open mind, patience, and commitment!
To me, mindfulness is ‘coming back to life’ and embracing our existence authentically, with kindness and curiosity. Mindfulness is about “aliveness”. It’s a way of being in touch with our experience of life in each moment – exploring life as it unfolds. We have all experienced this already – it’s only natural.
Mindfulness isn’t about learning a new skill – but rediscovering one we have already which we’ve ‘forgotten’ (particularly in our Western fast-faced, mind-focused, achievement-driven world). When we grow up, we’re conditioned to filter our direct, spontaneous experience through knowledge, memories and judgments – and we start to lose our natural, playful curiosity about life.
The first part of mindfulness is noticing our direct experience – our breath, our body, our thoughts, our feelings – and what we can see, hear, touch and smell in the world around us. We become aware of these different aspects of our experience (whether pleasurable or not), without seeking to label them or achieve anything – we simply observe them.
The second part of mindfulness is about how we notice. Being mindful involves cultivating a non-judgmental, open, kind and playful approach to life. Left unchecked, our conscious minds automatically label our experiences as good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair. Mindfulness is becoming aware of this, taking a step back, beyond these judging narratives.
To truly understand what mindfulness means, we need to put it into practice. An important word to remember when practicing mindfulness is the word ‘NOTICE’.
Just keep noticing openly, without trying to change anything, without judgement, without expectation, as often as possible. Notice what you are thinking. Notice what you are feeling. Notice what your body feels like. Notice where you are. Notice what you can see, hear, smell touch or taste. Just notice without seeking to change anything.
If you are new to mindfulness, be kind and patient with yourself in your exploration of it. It is an enjoyable journey of continuous discovery but like all new skills, it requires time and practice!