When I read about mindfulness, the promises are big. Mindfulness, will make me “feel better, reduce my stress, and enjoy life a little more,” as mindful.org promises. The Huffington Post blares that once I’m mindful, I will take more walks, create more, get outside, and seek out more experiences, among other things. Packaging on things like drinks and “health food” tell me that taking a moment to be mindful will bring peace to me and make the world a better place.
I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks thinking about the dichotomy of my knee jerk distaste of “mindfulness,” and my desire for it. I think they come from similar places – the way mindfulness is packaged and sold to me feels slick and gives big promises for answers to huge issues. Who doesn’t want to create more, and make the world a better place by taking a moment to breath or by eating a bag of kale chips? But, I have a deep distrust of anything that promises to solve all my problems with little to no effort on my part or makes promises to “fix” health issues and isn’t backed up by science. This is one of the big reasons it took me so long to start doing yoga in any kind of meaningful way, and why I can’t bring myself to commit to any kind of religion even though I honestly want that community and ability to believe so badly.
I do want to be more present in my life. Not because I think that issues in my life would be fixed if I was, but because I want to experience more than what’s on Facebook (without abandoning Facebook – face it, I’m a giant nerd and a huge introvert and so much of my social interaction comes from there, and that’s cool). I want to be present for my family and my friends. I want to be aware of what my body is experiencing in the world, so I can use that information to make changes in what I do. I have this idea that I can use this info to help balance what I doing because I want to do it (ie. Binge watching Friends and eating Cheetos), with doing things because it makes my body feel better (yoga, sleeping 6-8 hours a night).
I’m going to set an intention. Similarly to setting intentions set during yoga practice that help give focus to the practice, I’m going to set this intention for this exploration of what mindfulness is. My intention with this exploration is to see if there is anything to mindfulness besides fake promises and corporate slickness, and if so, how can I access that without spending a lot of money and time I don’t have.
Mindfulness For the Full-Minded is an ongoing exploration by Kat Gordon. She invites you to follow her journey toward mindfulness here.