This is a big buzzword right now and has inspired people to do everything from quitting their job to live on a hill with nothing but the love in their heart to simply downloading a meditation app that’s rarely used. But what is it? What has people buzzing and app developers competing for the top meditation spot on your phone? What is mindfulness?
It’s the opposite of mindlessness.
It’s the state of being mindful.
It means waking up from autopilot, checking in and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, body and environment in the present moment.
It means thinking about your thinking.
Jon Kabat Zinn, defines mindfulness as: “Paying attention; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
And to be honest, most of us suck at this. We’re constantly frustrated by something that happened yesterday or anxious about what we have to do tomorrow. Our eyeballs are glued to our phones during any idle moment, we arrive at destinations without remembering anything we saw along the way, and we shove away any hint of emotions because “we ain’t got time for that” in our crazy and hectic lives. Sound familiar?
I hope you at least smirked, I’ve been guilty of all of the above too.
I’ll try not to get too hippy dippy on you but when we live like this we fail to recognize the beauty in the world and people around us. We fail to hear what our body and mind is telling us which is skyrocketing the number of chronic issues, obesity and depression diagnoses. We get stuck on this merry-go-round of distractions, social media comparisons and harmful thinking that’s leading to depression, anxiety and disconnection from deep and meaningful connection to ourselves and others.
It took my first anxiety attack to believe any of this was worth questioning.
You don’t have to quit your job and move in with monks to live a more mindful life. You simply need to decide that you’re going to start paying attention, making a priority to find stillness each day and asking some important questions like:
How am I feeling right now?
What’s my body trying to tell me?
Why am I doing what I’m doing?
What do I value most in my life?
How is my life reflecting that?
Is my self talk holding helping or harming me?
Where is my time, attention and energy going most?
Bottom line, you have to start thinking about you’re thinking. Start checking in, paying attention to your mind and body. Question the patterns and habits in your life.
CHALLENGE: Each morning for the next 7 days, dedicate 5 minutes to put your phone away, sit quietly, breath deeply feel your body and ask yourself one of the questions above. There’s 7 questions, one for each day of this challenge. See if that simple 5 minutes of checking in in the morning changes how you walk through your day. See if you can start to discover what mindfulness is for yourself.