Mindfulness is Meditation:
While mindful meditation is a practice, mindfulness is not mediation alone. Mindfulness is the act of being more aware while being free of judgment and can be done through many different practices and daily activities. It also includes awareness of not only our surroundings but also of physical and mental feelings as well.
Mindfulness is relaxing:
Although relaxation is a common side effect of mindfulness, being mindful for many of us takes effort. We often go about our days on auto pilot, being rather mindless, which is great for efficiency.
To become fully aware however of a moment or of ourselves, takes intentional focus which in many cases is effort and not relaxation.
Also if we have experienced or are experiencing any form of trauma, mindfulness can be very difficult as it brings awareness to the emotions we are suppressing. However it will also lift the burden of suppressing these and possibly even allow us to share with others to once again lighten the load.
The act of no judgment which is a key to mindfulness means allowing ourselves to acknowledge our thoughts, maybe their origin or purpose and then accepting them as they are and moving on. This is also a very freeing experience and can support us to feel more at ease.
The aim of mindfulness is having no thoughts:
This myth leads a lot of people to believe that they can’t be mindful or practice mindfulness. When in fact mindfulness is essentially the opposite of this. Our minds are built for thinking and processing information in a flash, which means we have thousands of thoughts a day. Mindfulness is not about shutting these off but of being more aware of each of our thoughts while attaching no judgment to them.
Mindfulness is about always living in the present moment:
Living moment for moment is not actually practical for us as we need to plan ahead or at times refer to the past to make informed choices. We need to decide what we are having for dinner or what we had last night, what to wear, where we are going etc.
However because we are typically very busy thinking and planning, it is very good to build in mindful moments to bring us back to the present. It helps us take stock, practice gratitude, think clearly and calmly and also allows our brain a break, often making us more productive and content.
Mindfulness is about changing/taking away feelings or emotions:
Mindfulness is not about removing or dulling emotions. It is about being aware of them and not judging them. This means allowing yourself to acknowledge negative emotions even during what you deem should be a positive time, and accepting this is just one part of your experience in that moment and that it is ok. Likewise recognising positive emotions in times that you think should be more sad or negative. Our range of emotions can be experienced together based on who what where and this is ok. We need to be aware, accept and allow ourselves to move on without judgment.
Mindfulness is enjoying everything beautiful:
Of course finding beauty all around us plays a role in mindfulness like enjoying the wonders of a sunset, that taste of a warm cookie or the bubbles in your champagne. But it’s also about noticing your defensiveness after losing your temper, your helplessness in the face of tragedy, or that something in the fridge has definitely gone off.
Mindfulness looks at the negative, the positive and everything in between, all with a level non-judgmental mind. It’s the awareness of joy, and pain and numbness and everything else.
It’s taking a step back from the constant input of sensory information and the constant output of thoughts and feelings. Whether for a split second or many hours, that’s up to you!