July 8, 2015

Mindfulness: What is the Point of all This?

"asa_yoga_meditating", Minoru Nitta, Flickr CommonsMindfulness is all the rage these days.

Time Magazine even featured it on their cover not too long ago. But what is it exactly and how can it be helpful?

We tend to spend so much time in our heads thinking about anything but what we are doing in the moment.

Just this morning, I was thinking about my to-do list for the day while making a cup of coffee. I went to my trusty Keurig to push the brew button and found a steaming cup o’ joe already waiting for me. While planning my grocery list, I made my coffee without even realizing it!

We all do it, all the time.

We’re either regretting that doughnut we ate for breakfast or dreading the work presentation we have to give this week. We might be ruminating on a comment that a co-worker made three weeks ago and running through various scenarios of how we wish we would have handled the situation.

But what is the point of all this?

I admit there are some instances in life where I would be happy to mentally check out (my morning commute comes to mind). However, how much of life are we missing out on by not being mindful of the present?

This may all make sense but it can be easier said than done. So where is the best place to start?

The great thing about mindfulness is that you can do it anywhere. Start right now, while you are reading this post. After each sentence, stop and think about the meaning of what you have read.

If your mind starts to wander, (squirrel!) just bring it back to the present again.

If you are having some trouble with this, the best thing you can do is take a long, deep breath. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for four and breathe out for eight. Or if you get distracted by counting, just feel the breath coming in and out of your body. Do this for five, then ten, then 25 breaths if you can.

If a thought comes to you (Did I leave the stove on? Is my house burning down as I’m trying to harness my chi?), just imagine it as a helium balloon floating away and come back to the present.

Try to make this a daily practice—the key word here being practice.

As you work on this more and more, the mental clutter will start to clear and distracting thoughts will be less frequent. You might even find some peace and joy in scrubbing the toilets (I said this might not be easy!).

Just know that you don’t have to book a trip to an Indian ashram and meditate in lotus position for 25 hours a day while having to pee the entire time to find a little more peace in life.

I’m not saying that meditation isn’t a great tool (it is!), but every moment of every day can be made a little easier and a little more joyful by just being right there in it.

Want more information?

I definitely recommend books by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. Eckhart Tolle also has some great information on staying in the moment.

Overwhelmed? Just take one big, deep breath…


Relephant Read: 

Is Mindfulness First World Bullsh*t?

A Mindfulness Crash Course.


Author:  Brittany Austin

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Minoru Nitta/ Flickr

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