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  • Writer's pictureDariana Walters

What is Mindfulness?

Most have us have heard the term "mindfulness" before. If you look up the definition of mindfulness you will find: "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something" ,"a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique". But what does this really mean? How do we achieve true mindfulness?


Let's break this down...


"The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something"


Most people run through their days with zero awareness. The crazy thing is that they are so unaware... that they are not even aware that they are unaware!

The average daily routine: Wake up, check cellphone, go to the bathroom, brush teeth, get dressed, get kids dressed, drop off to school, stop for a coffee, rush to work, immediately dive into your workload, lunch, check phone again, work, pick up kids, home, dinner, tv, cellphone, chores, shower, bed.


How many times has a week come and gone and you can't remember what you did, who you saw, or what you even ate the day before? Have you been asked, "How was your week? What did you do?" and you had to think about your answer? Was it difficult for you to recall your actions? Maybe you haven't even had to try to remember and instead your response has been, "Same sh!t, different day."


This is what I mean by not being aware that you are unaware. Some may say, "Well I am aware that I am doing all these things. I just have so much to do and a lot on my mind that I can't just remember it all off the top of my head." Sorry to be the one to break it to you but the truth is... you are not being aware. You are in auto-mode, survival mode. You have things you need to do in order to survive so without thinking twice you get up and just do them.


When you are unaware, you are not conscious. You are allowing your sub-conscious pre-programmed mind to dictate your actions. What does this mean? From the moment you are born to this very day, your sub-conscious is being programmed. The things you witness, the influences of your parents and peers, the pressure of social norms all play a factor in your sub-conscious programming. For a simple example, you were taught as a child to wake up and the first thing you do is brush your teeth every morning. It then becomes a sub-conscious program to go straight to the bathroom every morning and brush your teeth. It is no longer a demand or even a choice. It becomes an involuntary action run by your sub-conscious that was pre-programmed when you were a child. This happens with practically everything you do! Good and bad. True, you acknowledge the fact that your brushed your teeth, but you did not make the conscious decision to brush your teeth. You just did it, without thinking.


"A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique".


Key words: focus, calm, accepting.


Mindfulness is achieved by focusing on the now, calming down the mind and body so that you can open up space for accepting how you feel, think, and whatever arises in the moment.


Only by focusing your attention can you find mindfulness. How can you be mindful when you are distracted by random thoughts? How can you be mindful when you are not paying attention to what arises? What happens when you are distracted or not paying attention? Mistakes are made. Things are missed. Your loved ones feel unappreciated and unseen.


Only by focusing your attention on the now can you find mindfulness. How can you be mindful when you are thinking worriedly about the future or shamingly about your past? How can you be mindful when you are lost in a different time and place in your mind? Right now is all we really have. In the now, the power is in your hands to make the best decisions and choose your path.


Only by focusing your attention on the now and accepting the emotions and feelings that come up can you find mindfulness. After you focus and are able to tune into the present moment, are you pushing away the things that come up? Are you burying your emotions, ignoring your body, or allowing your emotions to take control over you? Accepting how you feel does not mean allowing them to overcome you. It means accepting that the feeling has appeared, taking advantage of the opportunity to transmute unwanted feelings, and loving yourself throughout the process.


Can one truly be mindful?


YES! You can stop that unwanted, damaging involuntary action! You can take control of your life and emotions! You can be fully aware of your actions and habits so that you can make the best decisions for yourself and those you love! You can be mindful and successful!


How?


First thing you need to do is...

Give yourself time in the morning to tune in. Too often do we get up and immediately get started. Set your alarm for just 30 minutes earlier in the morning. It sounds like a lot to some people but how important is your health to you? It starts with your willingness to put in the work!


30 minutes gives you time to wake up, stretch, take deep breaths, and tune into how you want to show up that day. Try these simple things to get started:


  • Write yourself some affirmations that inspire and motivate you and read them every morning in your new Wake Up Routine.

  • Set a goal or intention for the day.

  • Sort through whatever residual emotions you are carrying from the day before and decide which emotions you want to nurture that day and which ones you want to let go of.

  • Move around, stretch, even dance to release any stagnant energy in your body.


How beautiful would it look for you to get started with your day from a place of love and calm rather than haste and anxiety? How empowering is it to start your day knowing exactly how you want to show up and what you want to achieve?


IMPORTANT: STOP CHECKING YOUR PHONE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING





NO, NO, NO






Our phones are such a distraction. We get caught up in memes, news feeds, random videos, and we waste precious time on unnecessary scrolling. Diving right into text messages, emails, comments starts to fill our head with worries, fears, anxieties, and stresses. We want the first experience of our day to be our own connection with ourselves not with the world. Only after you tune back into your body and align yourself, can you check your phone and be equipped for whatever comes your way.


If you do not allow yourself time in the morning to re-align your body and emotions, you will be easily swept away into old though patterns and unwanted actions.


What else can I do?


Choose one thing you want to start practicing mindfulness with. For example, my fiance had an annoying habit of leaving cabinets open in the kitchen. He would make himself lunch, sit and eat, drop his plate in the sink, and not be aware of leaving the cabinets open. When he first began his mindfulness practice, I told him to only focus on the cabinets in the kitchen. Every time he went in there, he would work on being mindful of what he was doing and making sure he closed the cabinet every time. It took a while, it is not an overnight fix, and he finally managed to close the cabinets every time. Then he chose another thing and then another.


Eventually what happens is that sub-conscious programming again. This time what is being programmed is a healthy habit that triggers mindfulness without having to even try. You simply become one with mindfulness.


It takes practice, diligence, trust, and patience to achieve a mindful life. The reward for all the hard work it takes to get you there is an empowerment unlike any other. The feeling of complete and utter control of your actions, emotions, and decisions that connects you to the grandest version of yourself so that you can be 100% able to care for yourself and those you love.


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