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What is Mindfulness?

When speaking on mindfulness, I often think the image that comes to mind is meditation or sitting in awareness. While this is part of mindfulness and part of what I will discuss, mindfulness is so much more than that. How often do you find yourself asking or wondering where the time went. Or have those moments when cooking or driving home that you were just on autopilot? So much of life is dictated and moved by the clock and how we are overloaded with things to do. We rush, rush, rush, to get to the next thing on the never ending list we accumulate. But are we giving anything our full attention? Are we really absorbing and seeing what we are doing or are we just doing the motions?

That is the base of mindfulness, being able to give our full attention and awareness to the thing we are doing, to where we are. To feel every emotion, thought, breath we are taking, and to not be judgmental or attaching an outcome. Being mindful is allowing yourself a few seconds to stop and soak it all in before taking action.

Multitasking has been the biggest hindrance to mindfulness. Everyone is so focused on getting through the day and checking off the 'to do' list, that there isn't much attention paid to the emails that are being read, or the phone conversation and what is being said, to the drive to and from, to the kids, to the spouse or partner. How much information or connection is lost when we have our minds focused on a thousand different tasks?

One step you can take towards living a more mindful life would be to slow down! I know, I know, Coach Jamie, there is no way I can slow down, I don't have enough time in the day as is. Small baby steps will help you get into a better mindful state. When checking emails, don't do anything else. Really focus on what each email or piece of mail says and take a few minutes to be thoughtful of what you are gaining from it and what you need to move forward with that information. When talking on the phone or with another person, really focus on what they are saying. Give them eye contact, don't be doing other things. When we aren't focused we lose the subtitles in body language and facial expressions as well as the finer details of the conversation.

Mindfulness is really about taking the time to focus. Bringing that awareness of our thoughts and feelings to the forefront. Taking away the judgement of ourselves and the expectations. Mediation is a great way to start this process. As you train the brain to slow down and listen, mindfulness in the thick of the 'to do' list will come easier.

One meditation that is easy to start is to take 5-10 minutes in silence. Focus on your deep breathing. Calm the breath to take in the deep inhales that really inflate the lungs and make the stomach expand. Then release the breath to fully deflate the lungs and release all the air. During this time really focus on your breathing and slow the brain down to not focus or think on anything else. If a thought pops into your head, try to acknowledge it, push it aside and go back to the focus on your breath. This exercise can be used during the day when you need a chance to slow down and focus. As this exercise is practiced and expanded into more time, it will become easier.

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