Finding the Meaning of Mindfulness
What does it mean to be ‘Mindful’? If you google ‘Mindfulness’, all related searches are for products or definitions. Continue scanning the page and you find endless apps, books and courses. And to top it off you can find multiple different definitions.
So, before you spend your whole month’s wages on gadgets you need to decide what it means to achieve this state of ‘being Mindful’. And as with everything, it is not a ‘one size fits all’.
Mindfulness is defined in Buddhism as “the quality and power of mind that is aware of what is happening, without judgement and without interference.” From reading this it is clear to understand why it is so powerfully associated with meditation. However, living in the London hustle, I am all too familiar with the feeling of hopelessness when I hear that I need to meditate. But when we get down to the fundamentals, you will find how easy it can really be.
Breaking down the definition, there are three themes:
- Power of Mind
- No Judgement
Power of the Mind
They say it takes 66 days for a habit to form. So achieving Mindfulness, like anything worthwhile, will take time and resilience.
The key is to flex our focus muscle as much as we can in our daily lives and there are many ways you can work to achieve this. The ‘Calm’ app has challenges for daily meditations if you find prefer rewards-based learning. But even simply engaging in a book on your commute, instead of scrolling Instagram can do the trick.
Find an activity that helps clear your thoughts and do it often, so over time your brain will more smoothly transition to relaxation.
Before you know it, when times get tough, so will you!
The distractions of modern day have made ‘awareness’ an ambitious task for many.
Many teachings in yoga suggest focusing on the breath or the feelings in you body. The true purpose of this focus is a rejection of worries and thoughts of future situations.
This is great news because it means awareness is something we can bring into everything we do. Whether this is reading a book, brushing your teeth, or just cooking yourself a nice slow dinner. Simply think about what you are doing.
Great reads such as Matt Haig’s ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’, can work wonders to bring you back to reality when you’re feeling frazzled. He offers a comedic account about his societal induced mental health issues and how we can stay balanced in this hectic world.
How many times have angrily retreated to child’s pose when you can’t hold yourself up in ‘crow’? Or been frantically stressed when your train is delayed? Well give it up. Yes that’s right, all you need to do is simply accept that there are somethings we cannot control. And that’s not to say we shouldn’t fight for something we believe in or push ourselves when appropriate. It simply means calmly and reasonably accepting situations, so your mind is in the best state to find resolution.
A simple gratitude exercise, thinking of ten things at that moment in time you are grateful for can be an effective method. This can include repeating positive affirmations, focusing on a happy memory or remembering your successes.
How does this all related to Yoga?
My mindfulness journey started with Yoga. Walking into the studio all my worries melt away because I know for that time there is nothing I can do about them. I am not there with any ambitious goals so all I must do is focus on my teacher’s voice and do the best I can on that day, with no judgements for how I feel.
And that sounds like the definition of Mindfulness to me?
So, whether yoga is for your or not, the foundations of the practise can still be used to achieve Mindfulness.
If you really want to dig deeper into Mindfulness, I recommend a trip to Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon. They have great resources on the real meaning of mindfulness and how we can use teachings from Buddhism to navigate this crazy world.
Written by Becci Toms.