This is for those of you that have found a world of frustration, disappointment and self-criticism because you “can’t meditate”, have a “problem” concentrating, or find settling your body and clearing your mind a challenge. If this is familiar to you, you’ll likely benefit from a mindfulness practice: the everyday, anytime, anywhere meditation that does not require you to sit still, focus, or clear your mind.
Mindfulness is to become aware of one’s self, becoming curious and conscious about how you live and react to the world. How do your perceptions affect your thoughts, which in turn affect your feelings and emotions?? t is reflecting on what have you learned throughout your life and how it has impacted who you are, how you handle stress, cope with change, deal with trauma, and build relationships. The practice of mindfulness helps build awareness of your perception of the world and the heightened emotions that go with it. This is all in service of accepting and understanding who you authentically are.
Like every journey, this experience takes time. The world of mindfulness grants you that time, self-acceptance, and patience you need to get to your goal: knowing yourself. So where do we begin on such a journey? How do we, as curious individuals, take the first step forward beginning this mindfulness adventure towards the self?
This journey begins now. Do yourself a favour and take a moment to see what you hear and feel in this moment. One helpful exercise is called the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique: wherever you are, be consciously aware of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. By doing this, you are actively tuning in to the world around you and likely noticing things you normally wouldn’t. The next time you’re out for a walk, try being aware of each step. Mindful walking allows you to increase awareness not only of yourself but how your body moves. You can bring mindfulness to eating and drinking as well. By slowing down with every glass of water or bite of food you have, you can experience fully how it nurtures your body. Mindful eating increases your awareness about your health and nutrition and allows you to focus your mind in the moment rather than have it race in every direction.
The journey of mindfulness comes from recognizing the chaos of your brain. When you become mindful of how many stories you create and come back to the facts of the experience, you can be more aware of where you are at any time. Mindfulness is asking yourself questions like: How is your posture? How comfortable do you feel? Is the threat you are feeling real or a trigger of the past? It can help you create a space between a thought and your emotional reaction to it, which can in turn reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress. If you work on becoming mindful and enjoy the journey, you will find other peoples’ opinions mean less because you know yourself the best. You will find your body feels like a safe place to be. You will be able to capture your thoughts before they make mountains out of a mole hill.
Mindfulness is basically meditating in the moment, at any moment. All you have to do is make a choice. Take an adventure toward yourself, become consciously aware of the choices you are making and how you respond to life, in the way you learned to do so. Our first step in being curious is easy: choose to live mindfully and enjoy exploring who you are and how you want to respond to the world.
Laurel Collins, MA.