Off and on in my life I dabbled with mindfulness, but never really applied it long-term. The picture of a Buddhist monk absorbed for hours on end in a serene composure of contemplative practice was what came to mind at the mention of mindfulness. When I was much younger than I am today, I used to interchange the words "mindfulness" and "meditation". I mean, after all, isn't this what I am trying to achieve during meditation practice - being mindful or aware of the something that I am doing?
True. But mindfulness is not linked only with meditation or monks. I became much more educated on what mindfulness is and the role it can play in my life once anxiety came to live with me. Strange, how one waits until one really needs help to introduce healing practices into our lives!
As you are aware from an earlier blog, one major symptom of anxiety is the inability to still the thoughts. At my worst, my thoughts were on a loop. Always fretful. Always worrying. And always negative. Going over and over and over in my mind. I would try anything to shut off this incessant prattle. Not only did I re-educate myself on meditation but on mindfulness as well. And this time I learned so much more throwing away my old beliefs of both.
Susan Baeur-Wu puts it simply -- mindfulness is "a way of being."
The Chinese character for the word "mindfulness" is made up of two parts: the upper part meaning "now; this"; the lower meaning "heart; mind."
Shauna Shapiro reiterates a monk's explanation to her, that "mindfulness is not just about paying attention, but also about how you pay attention."
Diana Winston of the UCLA Health System defines mindfulness as: "paying attention to present moment experiences with open curiosity and a willingness to be with what is."
Living life outside a cloister or monastery, all this shed some light on what I could do to be mindful. We have all experienced being out in nature and feeling in awe, totally calm and connected. This is mindfulness. We have all experienced being one with a hobby, activity, sport. This is mindfulness. But, I also learned to incorporate mindful awareness to daily life tasks that do not generally bring me to a moment of being absorbed with total quality. Still, it is not possible for me to be mindful about everything that I do, but daily I seize the moment and engage my senses in at least one activity, be it: walking or eating or showering or ironing or washing dishes. When I do this, I notice that I slow down and am really present appreciating everything and no longer viewing it as mundane or simply a chore to get it over with as quickly as is possible.
When I meditate, I keep endeavouring to be mindful. I welcome my thoughts, react compassionately and gently return to my meditation.
This practice over the last six weeks has stilled the chatter in my mind and when the monkeys come back on difficult days, I am able to manage them. It has been many weeks since I have been stuck in a loop. Being mindful has kept me in the present, escaping the past woes and the future concerns, both which are out of my control.
A stress-free place to be.
Published By: Valdone's Leaf