Are you practicing mindfulness or are you just too damned distracted with the business of your life? Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days that it’s almost lost its meaning. So to remind you, it’s about being in the moment, instead of obsessing about the the past or fretting about the future.
The practice has its roots in Buddhist meditation, but has been appropriated by the mainstream and our western understanding of what constitutes mindfulness is probably far removed from what its Buddhist originators were thinking.
But alas, its modern, western incarnation is a great thing for all of us, god knows, we need it. If mindfulness is practiced regularly the benefits can be enormous. For example, it is found to reduce anxiety and depression and has become a clinical tool for psychologists treating some mental illnesses.
It also helps reduce general distress, can reduce the emotional pain associated with grief, anger, jealousy and fear; increase psychological and emotional resilience, improve concentration, enhance creativity (I’ve written about creativity and its benefits here), and generally increases your overall appreciation of life.
It works like this: mindfulness increases the intensity of everyday experiences and the result is that they are vastly more satisfying. Boredom with life is less of a danger as your are constantly engaged in the moment and the magic that it brings. Think about the moment when you flop down in the arm chair, coffee in one hand, book in the other, relief washes over you. Noting this moment of relief, the smell of the coffee, the comfort of the chair and the chance for a break. This is mindfulness.
Not being mindful in this moment would appear more like this: ‘hmmm, I haven’t really got time for this coffee break, it’s been such a busy morning and I haven’t got half the things done I needed to. I really should just quickly drink this as I’ve got so much on this afternoon, I must remember to pick up the dry cleaning, oh no, I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer for dinner…’ and so it goes.
We’ve all been there. There would not be a single person reading this blog post who has not lived that exact moment I just described. Mindfulness is about having less of those moments, those guilt-ridden, stress-inducing moments; and more of the ‘ahhh, comfortable chair, hot coffee, rest for a minute’ moments.
One way you can do this is by signing up for the ‘100 Happy Days’ Challenge. So the idea is that you sign up for the challenge and each day submit a photo of what made you happy that day. Pretty simple. You can do it in a public forum, like Facebook or Instagram, or privately by email. Personally, I was inspired by seeing my friends posting their 100 Happy Days shots on Facebook, so I’ve gone down that path in the hope that someone might be inspired by mine. But it’s totally up to you.
So far, 71 percent of people who didn’t complete their 100 Days said that time was their biggest barrier. I am busier than I’ve ever been, ever. But I will make time for this. Today is Day 1, and I was struggling to choose which moment to publish. Without the challenge I probably wouldn’t have even noticed those lovely little moments of simplicity, which actually, just made my day.
How are your mindfulness skills? Needing a hand with it? Check out #100HAPPYDAYS.