Mindfulness is one of the great antidotes for stress and anxiety. Everyone has heard of Mindfulness by now.
My clients often ask what to do to be more mindful. The ironic answer: It’s not about doing anything – yet, it is about how you do everything.
Two Definitions of Mindfulness
Jon Kabat-Zinn (leader in Mindfulness training and research): Mindfulness is the awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Mindfulness is learning how to fall awake.
Di Philippi: Mindfulness is your mind and your body in the same place, at the same time, doing the same thing.
Both of these definitions of Mindfulness require being in the present moment. Notice that I did not say “doing.” It is about being present in each moment of time. And that’s all there ever is: one moment, one moment, one moment.
This is quite difficult in our society which has become very focused on doing more, being “crazy busy,” and multi-tasking. Both your body and your mind are too busy with all of that. All that doing causes stress and anxiety.
Learn How to Fall Awake
Mindfulness is about learning how to be more awake – meaning more aware and present in the moments of your life.
• Seeing and aware that you are seeing.
• Hearing and aware that you are hearing.
• Watching your child’s soccer game and aware that you are watching your child’s soccer game.
Stay out of the past: Your mind loves to hang out in the past, and it has lots of stories about what happened, who did what, who was right or wrong, who you think you are, what should or should not have happened, why you are the way you are, etc.
The past hold lots of memories, regrets, and pleasures. Your mind loves to focus on the past.
Stay out of the future: Your mind is also obsessed with the future, thinking about things that haven’t happened yet, worrying and analyzing. You cannot BE awake in the present moment when you are running through your To Do List in your head, or worrying about how to get more done.
[pullquote]Most of us live most of the time on Autopilot, unaware of the present moment.[/pullquote]
• Have you ever been driving on the freeway and suddenly realize you don’t know where you are or whether you missed your exit?
• Have you ever eaten half a bag of chips without realizing it?
• Have you ever eaten an entire meal without really realizing what you just ate?
• Have you ever walked into a room with no idea why you got up and walked in there?
Your mind is too busy thinking about the past or the future, or too busy doing too many things, to be truly awake to the present moment.
Allowing your mind to continue doing all those things causes stress and anxiety.
Give Yourself a Wake Up Call
Next time you are busying yourself on your phone, call yourself instead:
“Hello Di? Are you here? Are you present? Are you aware?”
Eat One Raisin
Set a timer for 5 minutes and do nothing else but eat one raisin during that 5 minutes. You must make it last for the entire 5 minutes. That is an experience of Mindfulness.
Live Your Life
Mindfulness is not about being a monk, or going away on a retreat to get away from it all. It’s about being present and awake to your life in each moment of now.
How much of your life do you miss by being in the past, in the future, or on Autopilot?
Learn how to fall awake to your life. And watch stress and anxiety fall away.