Mindfulness is the intentional practice of becoming aware of the present moment, without any judgement. The term has been tossed around, by motivational speakers, app creators, websites, businesses, doctors and so many more with such ease that the term has almost lost its original balminess in the minds of many. But when practiced with intent, the magic of the practice continues to improve the well being of many across the world.
Mindfulness involves five aspects, each when combined adds to the quality of the practice.
1. Being aware, involves paying attention to all that is going around and within. So using your five senses you could start noticing the external environment whereas using your mind you can start paying attention to the physiological sensations in various parts of the body. Let the awareness flow into you.
2. Staying in the present moment can be a challenging task since evolution has carved us in a manner where survival requires us to stay in the past and learn our lessons and stay in the future to ensure continued survival. But life happens not in the past or the future, it happens in the here and now of the present. Our mind is flooded with thoughts and feelings about the past and future. But are we fully experiencing the present moment?
3. Being non-judgemental is difficult because again evolution has shaped us in a way where we are wired to produce snap judgements in order to ensure survival. But we can work our way out of this, consciously. Whenever I go into a spiral of being judgmental, I use my anchor. An anchor could appeal to any of your senses, the strongest one. I choose a visual of the branch of a huge banyan tree caressing me. Everytime I imagine the soothing scenario, I am reminded to be non-judgemental. And remember that all your thoughts and feelings are valid. None of them is stupid.
4. Equanimity involves letting the uncomfortable feelings in and not barricade them with questions like why this happens to you or why is this happening in the first place. It involves giving up your defences and embracing that which surrounds you, in complete form.
5. Self-Compassion is something that is often neglected in the current space and time. Think of a time when someone you knew was not feeling good. What did you do for them? Did you offer words of comfort and support? Did you get them a hot beverage? Or did you just sit beside them and let them rant? Self-compassion involves extending the same hand of goodness and help towards your own self, just like the one we extend to others in times of need.
Mindfulness teaches us that everything we experience is fleeting and that the next moment will be different from this one. And that change, that possibility can be very comforting in itself. Mindfulness may not benefit all but for those it works, it can make a huge difference in their lives.