There is a huge buzz about the word ‘mindfulness’ at the moment. It’s everywhere! In fact, the practice of being mindful goes back a long time, though it may have been called something different back then. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention that originated in Eastern meditation practices (Wikipedia); it is one of the central practices in Buddhism (Dublin Buddhist Centre).
Mindfulness can be described in many different ways, Wikipedia says it is ‘bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment’. Also it is said to be effective in the reduction of worry and ruminations which helps reduce depression and anxiety. It is good practice to pay attention to the now, as it stops us becoming anxious about the future or worrying about the past.
The now is all we really have – it is all we are really sure of. Mindfulness teaches us to enjoy our surroundings; nature, people, noises, smells, tastes, and of course helps us to pay attention to our internal mind; to what is happening, helps us be more self aware, realise that the negative voices or self sabotaging thoughts in our head don’t have to take over; above all it teaches us not to live in our heads.
Our mental wellbeing is becoming more and more important and prominent in our society, we are thankfully beginning to open up and discuss our struggles with depression, anxiety, self harm, suicide; Adults, Teens and Children – there is no age group immune to mental illness. I can’t help but wonder is this due to the frantic lifestyles we have? The technology we have on our phones and social media certainly don’t help. The rushing around from one thing to another, with a huge to do list constantly on our minds, are we teaching our children how to cope with this hectic lifestyle that we can barely cope with ourselves (I am speaking from my own personal experience here and take my hat off to those who manage to be calm and peaceful in their lives).
My own journey with mindfulness is an ongoing one, I am far from perfect like most of us. I first heard about mindfulness whilst studying life coaching 5 years ago, and I will leave you with a famous quote from the book that got me hooked:
“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness