What Exactly Is Mindfulness Anyway?

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.*

We often read about starting mindfulness by feeling the details of our morning coffee - the steam, the taste, the feel of our cup in our hands, etc. That’s all well and good, but why do we need to molest our coffee cups? Because by flexing this muscle, we can use mindfulness when it can make a huge difference.

We can learn to get better in moments of overwhelm, of sudden sadness or frustration, or of happiness or complete satisfaction - stop and take a second to feel the feelings. Figure out what’s going on in the pinball machine that is the human psyche.

I heard or read once a nice illustration that explained your mind and emotions as a sky, and thoughts and feelings were clouds, just passing through. Some dark and scary, some huge, some small, etc. You are not those clouds, you are the sky. Which is powerful because it means we can let thoughts and emotions pass without acting on them. It also means we can quit judging ourselves so harshly on those less-than-great thoughts we all have.

What prompted this train of insecure thoughts that make me feel I am definitely going to fail and everything is hopeless? Oh, I have been on Instagram for fifteen minutes and I follow a bunch of superstars. I am comparing myself to them and they have a million followers and I have 900.

Then, we can Stop and Swap! Replacing negative, irrational, unfounded thoughts with positive ones.

Everyone has to start small and I will not be just starting out forever. 900 will grow to 9000, I just need to give myself more time. I will get there. Now I need to get off of Instagram and quit spending so much time on there, so that I can stay positive and keep doing the work I’m meant to do.

 *Definition via greatergood.com.

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