There is a lot of buzz…beyond buzz at this point….about mindfulness. Mindfulness in the workplace. Mindfulness in the schools. Mindfulness in healthcare-in mental health-in sports-the arts-and yes, even in parenting and relationship. What is mindfulness? Why the buzz? And what does this have to do with ME?
Mindfulness is a way of being, where one brings full awareness to the present moment experience, and lives that present moment experience with kindness and curiosity instead of with judgment. Mindfulness is also a catchall name for a genre of meditation which is aimed at cultivating focused attention, concentration and compassion.
Although mindfulness is thousands of years old, its popularity has grown in recent years due to widespread medical, psychological and neuroscience studies showing a direct link between mindfulness meditation and reported stress reduction outcomes, increased impact of treatments for a variety of diseases, greater ability to focus, leading to improved performance in work and in school, greater creativity, not to mention an overall improved sense of well-being. While the research is complex and significant, I believe the link to these outcomes is simple and clear: when we are living in THIS particular moment, we are NOT in the future (anxiety) nor the past (regret). When we bring our full awareness to THIS particular moment with kindness and curiosity, we are able to feel better about ourselves and our lives by experiencing all that is here RIGHT NOW!
AND the path to mindfulness is simple….not easy…. Cultivating habits that each and every one of us is perfectly capable of, but that require practice. You may say “NO-I can not clear my mind”. Guess what-- no one can; but by developing habits of directing awareness, we work with capacities we all have! Newscaster Dan Harris claims that eventually meditation will be as much part of our self-care routines as exercise.
As practice becomes habit, a sense of well-being is cultivated, and we connect with others on a more compassionate level. The compassion starts with ourselves; by directing our awareness without judgment, the habit of self-judgment….you know, the soundtrack to your life that tells you that you did everything wrong, that you need to do more, do better? The one you don’t even hear? THAT soundtrack gets turned down, and occasionally has been known to stop! When the volume is down you realize that you are enough; that you are doing what needs to be done; that you are where you are supposed to be; that you really have everything you need.