Mindfulness is the art of being aware of our internal and external experience. Mindfulness allows us to recognize and stay curious about each part of our experience–our thoughts, our emotions, our sensations–without being swept away by them. After all, each of these is only one part of our experience, and may or may not be accurate. Just because you think a thought does not make it true.
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere as a way to stay present and grounded in your everyday life. For example, when is the last time you ate something really amazing? And when you ate it, did you take the time to really enjoy what you were eating?
Mindfulness can also be practiced through meditation, which allows us to observe our inner experience. The goal of meditation is never to “clear your mind” or keep it from wandering. This is unrealistic. In fact, attempting to just “zone out” goes against the goal of practicing awareness. The goal is to simply become aware of each part of your experience as you notice it.
Keep in mind that mindfulness and meditation are difficult. They are skill sets that require practice. Do not try mindfulness; practice mindfulness. At the beginning of this blog I have included a recorded mindfulness practice that is popular with my clients. I hope you are able to practice this exercise and find it valuable.
For more information or to continue to explore mindfulness or meditation here are some of my favorite resources:
•Harris, D. (2014). 10% Happier. It Books.
•Lantieri, L. & Goleman, D. (2008). Building emotional intelligence: Techniques to cultivate inner strength in children. Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True.
•Siegel, D. J. (2010). Mindsight; the new science of transformation. New York: Bantam Books.