Hey there! Before we get into the nitty gritty, we need to know what we mean by mindfulness.
Some of you will come with previous experience and some will be complete beginners. Let’s define what our mindfulness looks like.
We’ll start with—
What it’s not
Our mindfulness is not hocus pocus, airy fairy-ness. It’s not about spending hours meditating or floating off to la la land. No disrespect to meditation or la la land—they definitely have their place, it’s just not here.
Our mindfulness is not about changing our lives and becoming commune-living gypsies or spiritual gurus. Again, no disrespect. But, I think there can be a misconception that mindfulness is a bit hippy-dippy, softly-spoken, I can’t think of a better term than airy fairy, so I’ll use it again!
Our mindfulness isn’t religious. And you’ll find that, on the whole, most mindfulness-based practices aren’t religious. Meditation and mindfulness may have their origins in Eastern religions, like Buddhism, but religious thought or practice play no part here.
Our mindfulness is not about shutting off our thoughts—in fact, no mindfulness is about shutting off thoughts, nor controlling them. It’s about separating from them, realising that we’re not our thoughts—it’s about observing and understanding them. It’s about being able to say thank you, mind, but that’s enough now.
Our mindfulness isn’t about zoning out—it’s about honing in. It’s not about taking time out of our busy lives, it’s about engaging in them. And by consciously choosing what we engage in, how and why, we might just find that busy isn’t our go-to description of our days anymore.
Make our meaning
We’re using the definition of Jon Kabat-Zinn, who says mindfulness is being present, without judgement, and paying attention.
There’s a bit of a fuzzy line between being present and paying attention, but we’ll suss the differences as we talk more about them.
So, what does this mean for us?
In a nutshell, it means—
Trying not to think so much of the past or future and live now, fully awake (but sleeping well!) and making conscious choices.
It means trying to always be kind to ourselves and others—both in our heads and out loud. Trying not to judge books by their covers or react impulsively.
It means trying to live simply, with values at our core, and just making the most of our time.
You’ll notice there’s a common theme here—
Mindfulness isn’t a magic switch and it’s not a constant energy.
It’s a practice.
How to be
It is a practice, it takes energy—which sounds contradictory, shouldn’t mindfulness be effortlessly light and easy-breezy? Airy fairy, even?!
Some of these buzz phrases (live now, be conscious) sound airy fairy, which I promised our mindfulness was not—and it isn’t!
Our mindfulness is all about energy and how we choose to use it. It takes energy, but it also gives it back. Just like exercise—takes energy (sometimes energy we don’t think we have to give!), but that run (ick!) or jog (meh) or walk (yeah!) energises us, in return.
Side note—no disrespect to runners. I don’t run. You’re amazing!
Mindfulness isn’t about changing our lives, it’s about changing our minds. A shift in perspective and how we react to the things that happen to us.
Oh, we’ll have many, many slip ups along the way. That’s all a part of the journey. But, in keeping with the theme of non-judgement, we don’t beat ourselves up—we just let those slip ups be, learn from them (probably make them again!) and move on.
As with any practice, the more we do it, the better we get, and the more natural and instinctive our actions become.
I know this stuff all sounds sweet and nice, but you might be thinking—that all sounds sweet and nice, but how do we actually do it? We’ll break it all down when we talk about each specific element in more detail.
As Rachel Hunter used to say in those old Pantene ads—
It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
In your background narratives, you talked a bit about your understanding of mindfulness. Today, just have a quick think about whether that was different to what we’ve talked about here? Is there anything in this post that you were (or weren’t) expecting, or that you disagree with?
Tomorrow, we’ll chat a bit about gratitude—which is part of mindfulness, but I couldn’t work out where to put it, so it’s here.
Front and centre.
The root of joy is gratefulness.
~ David Steindl-Rast
Enjoy your day.