Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Ok, so are you thinking, “Oh no no no, my brain is way too busy to for this!” Well, you’re not alone. The truth is, mindfulness is something we as humans were born with. As we get older we just forget how to be mindful, especially in today’s world of balancing work, caring for kids, caring for parents, having a constant fear of missing out, meeting deadlines and being continually plugged in. When you simply stop and take a moment to think, “Hey what is happening around me right now?” that’s mindfulness. You become aware of what all of your senses are telling you while you’re sitting for just a minute and feeling.
Let’s do it. Take a moment to stop what you’re doing. Think……what am I feeling right now and just sit in that feeling. You might be feeling super chill which is amazing! Or you might be feeling really anxious with an elevated heart rate. This is when you say there is no way I can possibly not react to all the craziness around me!
So why is mindfulness so hard?
Mindfulness is not about being perfectly present all the time. We’ll all continue to forget where we put our keys or completely space out while driving to work. But mindfulness is about noticing when we are spacing out or stopping to take a breath when frantically searching for those lost keys. Have you ever noticed that your mind was totally wandering as your spouse was sharing a story of what happened in their day? Caught yourself taking a deep breath before answering the phone? Or even noticed holding your breath while waiting in the line at the grocery store? Well, there it is…..you were being mindful! We don’t need to make it harder than it needs to be.
Even before we start our day, we often anticipate that it will be full of things that will be tedious and dreary. The drive-thru for our morning coffee will be packed and slow, our yoga instructor is super annoying and supper has yet to cook itself. What if we stopped looking ahead at what is going to be tedious and dreary about the day and got curious about it? Maybe we would find ourselves saying good morning with a beaming smile when we roll up to the drive-thru window. We might learn our yoga instructor is going through a messy divorce. And when we remember we were up most of the night caring for a sick kid, we just might give ourselves a break for not being on top cooking supper. Life appears a little brighter through this lens, doesn’t it?
Still not convinced? That’s probably because you’re still thinking you and your brain are just too busy to learn how to be mindful. Fair enough, but think about this. Is it easy to learn something new when we are stressed out? The answer is a hard no. So stop thinking you can only practice mindfulness when you’re stressed. Practice while driving to work. Focus on taking some deep breaths, look at the scenery and think about what you’re seeing around you. Take note of what is around you in the very moment. When we practice paying attention to the present moment when we’re calm, it’s much easier to be mindful when we are literally freaking out!