What is Mindfulness, really?
Mindfulness Matters and So Do You
By Stephanie Catalano, LCSW & Published Author
Mindfulness, a practice that can change your life dramatically:
Maybe you have heard of Mindfulness and maybe you have even attempted to live by it. However, it is something that is hard to remain dedicated to due to the pace of everyday life. Mindfulness is really an activity. It’s something that needs to be practiced daily so it can become a “state of mind.” It’s one thing to read a book or attend an inspiring Workshop, but it’s entirely different when it comes to actually creating a life that allows you to live Mindfully, become a deliberate thinker, and align with your true essence and most authentic self. When you make Mindfulness a value, life really begins.
Mindfulness has been defined in many ways, but in essence Mindfulness is a psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. It is to be aware of what’s taking place, both internally and externally. Here’s the important part: Mindfulness is to remain present without passing judgment. To be Mindful is to allow yourself to observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as “positive” or “negative.” It is to also live life in the moment rather than watching life pass you by or waiting for the right moment. To be Mindful is to experience life as it’s happening rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. After all, all you have is now, A C T I V A T E the Present Moment.
Smile if you like to be in control:
I’m smiling and I’m sure you are, too! As human, we like to be in control. It feels good to be in control and it gives a sense of safety and security. It’s always really interesting how humans try to control everything that is external. You know like the weather, the traffic, the taste of coffee, the responses of the boss and loved ones. This typically leads to anxiety, stress, worry, and many other unpleasant feelings.
Humans like to know what’s coming and that makes sense, but you see, humans don’t have that kind of power – at least not yet – but humans do have the power to look inward, gain a deep level of awareness, and create outcomes by using thoughts. While sure, humans are conditioned to respond a certain way to stimuli and triggers, but this also means, humans can be re-wired or re-programmed if willing to put forth the consistent effort and work it requires.
Mindfulness Matters and So Do You:
You matter, you’re worth it, and you deserve to live your best life. Understanding this starts with you. Life is not meant to be spent upset or worried about what you can’t control. Everything you need lives inside of you and if you begin to live Mindfully, you will begin to reap the rewards. It’s never too late or never too soon because all you have is now. Let go of living in the space of “what should have been” and live for what is happening right now in this moment. Here are some benefits of Mindfulness:
- Stress reduction
- Increases focus
- Decreases anxiety
- Increases immune functioning
- Enhances mental health
- Improves relationships
- More cognitive flexibility
- Allows for compassion towards self and others
- Increases emotional regulation and self-control
Living a Mindful life can be difficult and challenging, but it is worth it. In fact, being Mindful is the only time a person is actually living. If a person is stuck on “autopilot,” living with no awareness of what’s taking place in the present moment, is that really living? Sounds more like existing, huh? Here are a few myths of Mindfulness:
- Thinking about nothing
- Being happy all the time and loving every moment
- Long periods of passive sitting
- Living only in the present. Never thinking about the past or future
- Zoning out
- Practice used when convenient or sometimes
The basic elements of Mindfulness include body awareness, breathing, posture, and relaxation. Here are other ways to be Mindful:
- Create routines and be consistent
- Gain self-awareness and integrate awareness into all that you do
- Accept what is and take accountability
- Start the morning with an intention
- Meditate daily
- Practice gratitude
- Let go of what no longer serves your highest and best self
- Forgive yourself and others
- Avoid judging your experiences, thoughts, and feelings and when you find yourself doing so, stop and observe what you’re doing
- Disconnect from social media
- Watch the sun rise and set
Check out Stephanie’s most recent book, Mindful Makeover. Mindful Makeover is a 30-day Workbook and Guide teaching Women how to use the practice of Mindfulness to create the life you desire. The Workbook has been created based off a 4-step formula that includes: Awareness, Acceptance, Accountability, and Action. By the end of the experience, the reader will feel educated, empowered, and elevated and have the skills needed to maintain a Mindful Life.
Love, Light, & Gratitude,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker