I guess to begin looking at mindfulness, I need to figure out what mindfulness actually IS, outside of slick packaging. So, I asked a bunch of folks some questions about what mindfulness means to them, if they practice it and what that looks like, what is appealing and challenging, etc. Shockingly enough, everyone had different answers about what it means, what it looks like for them in their daily lives, etc.
Many people had variations on mindfulness being the act of being present in the now, taking time to experience this moment and not let our thoughts be pulled to the past or the future. Rather than frantically planning out my week, thinking about what I am going to be doing this weekend, or making for dinner tonight, or that conversation I have to have with my boss this afternoon (eep!), simply experiencing the moment I’m in. Some people I asked, mentioned how calming this is, how it makes them happier to be able to just have an experience without needing to quantify or qualify it.
Several folks said that the concept of being present in the moment just doesn’t work for them. One person said it means “knowing the reason and purpose for my actions.” People expressed frustration with the need to stop what they were doing to just check in and be more aware, before moving on to the next thing, and mindfulness felt like another chore they needed to get through, something they weren’t “doing well enough.” Some people said they just didn’t want to take the time to be mindful because taking time to be mindful was using more time from something else they needed or wanted to do more.
A common thread from people who do currently practice mindfulness was the idea that mindfulness is an ongoing practice – not something that is ever Accomplished. Rather, like yoga or meditation, or any activity we take on in our lives, it is something to be constantly learned about, strived for, practiced, and never something that is achieved and done.
As I have stated in previous posts, I like the IDEA of mindfulness. I like the concept of being able to just experience a moment. I have with fairly intense, high functioning anxiety, and one of the (many) ways I cope with that is to constantly be thinking about future situations and figuring out how I can handle them, as well as analyzing past interactions to see if I want to do something different in the future (my brain is … fun). While I like the idea of being able to be in a moment, to just simply enjoy something for what it is, or feel angry about a situation without having to place it in a greater context and analyze that for anything else that could go wrong, it feels … scary to let that go. And, honestly, I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.
Mindfulness For the Full-Minded is an ongoing exploration by Kat Gordon. She invites you to follow her journey toward mindfulness here.