Mindfulness is probably the simplest thing you can do and yet, it is so hard for most of us to grasp. It makes sense because we can’t see it or attribute it directly to accomplishments or happiness. Yet, if we really understood what mindfulness could do, we would spend every moment of our day striving to do it.
What is Mindfulness?
Well, mindfulness is the work put in to obtain enlightenment. You know how Buddha sat under that tree for so long? He was simply being mindful. In meditation, we are being mindful on the inside more than anything. Listening to what you’re feeling in your body. We can also be mindful with our eyes open. Say you’re standing in front of the mirror to see how your outfit looks. You are looking at yourself and you’re either feeling good about your outfit or not good. The mind is getting the message from your eyes looking at yourself.
The good or bad feeling is the minds feedback. When you look within yourself at this moment, you may hear the incessant voice in your head. It has always been there, giving you unnecessary advice. It tells you that you’re not good enough or feeds you with a bunch of reasons you should be nervous your child is late for dinner. The voice you know so well is probably wreaking extra havoc as you look at yourself in the mirror. Even if you look great, it can cut you down and make you feel guilty about that square of chocolate you indulged in last week.
Mindfulness is “witnessing” that voice. You don’t fight the voice, you just listen. The voice comes up with its conclusions based on the past. This voice is the key to dealing with the past emotions that still live within you. A huge part of that is how you feel about yourself.
Mindfulness Eradicates Stress
Even if you wake up feeling good about yourself, stress can be triggered at any moment. The more this occurs, the worse you feel about yourself. You become unsure of yourself and the ability to navigate through your life. During those moments of stress, it’s important to look within yourself. Feel the tension and where it’s living. What is the voice saying to you? If you can actually hear the bazaar and abusive things your inner voice says, you’ll realize you shouldn’t be giving it any power.
Being more mindful allows you to chip away at this monkey mind, creating more silence within. Without that inner voice screaming at you all the time, you won’t experience stress. If you’re being chased by a lion, your fight or flight response will kick in but that’s pretty logical. Your boss wanting to see you is not nearly as dangerous and yet the brain tells the body something really bad is going to happen. That’s where stress comes from. An overreaction of the mind.
There have been 39 studies up to this point that has explored the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction. It has been found to be highly effective in dealing with even major mental disorders. Exploring the feelings that arise in you, especially in the midst of an angry, anxious, scary moment, can be deeply healing.
Seeing Yourself For Who You Really Are
Once you begin to put out the fires of stress, anxiety, and fear, you can practice mindfulness to improve your confidence. We have been so caught up with marketing messages, past voices of judgment in our heads, and our own feelings, that we don’t really understand the truth. The truth is that you’re kind of a big deal. Regardless of the skin, you’re in, you’re a human being that can walk, talk, and drive. You’re spinning on a planet that’s in the middle of a galaxy. That in itself is so incredible.
You are special and you are unique. Mindfulness is a vast range of activities. You can achieve it through meditation or just writing down what you’re grateful for. Yoga is also an incredible way to access mindfulness. Yoga instructors have learned through the ancient practice deriving from India that these poses are a triple threat for the monkey mind. Every pose focuses on the mind, body, and soul in some way. Pigeon pose stretches out your hips which relieves anxiety and helps to release toxins into your organs.
Relate To Yourself Mindfully
You have probably tried to fight off feelings of “not good enough” just like the rest of us. What if you’re not the problem? What if the only real problem is how you relate to yourself? Instead of buying into what the mind says, why not ponder a little further about your minds past advice. You’ll probably recognize that it’s been wrong before. It may have caused you to do irrational things because you weren’t being mindful.
Instead of indulging in negative thoughts about yourself, just look at the thoughts. They might be true, they might not. You’re not perfect but the good parts of you should get as much attention as the perceived bad parts of you.
Saying to yourself, “I’m having the thought……..” and whatever negative thought you’re experiencing. Doing this can shift how you’re thinking and helps to fight off low self- esteem you experience based on these thoughts that pop up.
Being hard on yourself for not being perfect may seem like a socially normal thing to do but it isn’t. If you don’t feel good, then it’s not the right thing to be doing. Self-compassion is an aspect of mindfulness and a way you can acknowledge struggles in a true, kind way. Mindfulness and self-compassion work well together and allow you to act as your own best friend.
How to Access Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a powerful tool. Start off with very small things and practice daily. Looking in the mirror and trying to be mindful of your feelings about your body may be too high a mountain to climb on the first try. Instead, look at your face in the mirror. If your mind starts to chat about the crow’s feet forming near your eyes, inquire as to why aging is a negative thing?
To get to the space of mindfulness, yoga is a great gateway practice. Yoga of any kind is also the pathway to achieving a deeply meditative state. You relax the body and through breathing, you begin to clear out thoughts in the mind. When you’re in a yoga pose, you can focus on how exhaling can allow a certain muscle to stretch further. When you’re mindful during yoga, you’d be surprised at all the things going on inside your body.
Your yoga poses can lead you to sit on your mat and come inward. Your body and mind are now relaxed so you can sit with peace. Things may come up through meditation. Consider the tension in the body or the thoughts as objects. Just observe and let them float through you.
Practicing mindfulness in a setting that doesn’t create any of the normal fires in your life is a good way to fight those fires when the time comes. When you feel guilty for having a cookie, you can look within and not judge the experience. You won’t feel terrible about yourself. When anxiety sets in, you can quickly look within to experience what the voice is telling you to fear. Just by listening and not getting involved in the minds melodrama, you can become separate from what your psyche says. The separation is a grand step to confidence that is unwavering.