We’re supposed to be levitating or something. Or at the very least stay in a peaceful, blissed out space where we behave like the saints and deities.
You know? Not human. Impenetrable to outside influence. Like Buddha.
Well, actually, that is a really inaccurate expectation or understanding of mindfulness. (Insert Homer Simpson sound here).
So, what is mindfulness?
Well let’s review a couple descriptions.
- Objectively noticing and lovingly allowing the rising and falling of sensation, feelings, thoughts and emotions.
Imagine here that you are watching cars drive by on a freeway. There are some red cars. Some blue cars. Some silver, green, white and black. There is a Honda, Toyota, BMW and Mustang. There you are- just watching the cars drive by on the freeway. Noticing each car. The color, shape, sound.
We wouldn’t hop out in front of a car to get it to stop. We wouldn’t call the police station to have the road blocked off. We wouldn’t shame ourselves or blame someone else if an unpleasant car drove by.
Nope, we would just objectively notice and allow the cars to drive past us.
This is the same with mindfulness.
Another definition I enjoy is:
- Awareness of your awareness.
Neuroscience states that there are approximately 70,000 thoughts in a day. That’s roughly 50 thoughts per minute. I would say that is an understatement. Especially if there is stress on board.
But how many times a day are we aware of our thoughts? Not 50 times per minute.
There is a lot going on up there! Our minds are hardwired to think. Evolutionarily speaking it has gotten us this far. (Deep bow mother nature). But as the saying goes.
“The mind is a wonderful servant and a terrible master.”
Not to freak anyone out, but the mind is often times running the show. Running the show and we don’t even know it! Sneaky little bugger.
Next thing we know we are cussing someone for cutting us off in traffic. We can’t sit still long enough to feel the moment so instead we are off to the next stimulating sensory experience.
We find ourselves in target buying everything we honestly do not need.
We lose energy and cannot get motivated.
We get caught up in comparing ourselves to the world and feel less than. And a plethora of other mental activities that can wreak havoc.
- Mental activity is not inherently bad or wrong. There is no shame in all of this. Evolutionarily speaking our minds and conditioned behaviors have kept us humans alive this long (Shout out to the universe for making our minds incredibly intricate and powerful!).
- Unconscious mental activity can lead to some harm with destructive behaviors and states of mind.
- Mindfulness is what is aware of all the clatter of mental activity.
Mindfulness is on our side. It helps us become aware of all the chatter and impulsive drives for actions that are out of line with our integrity and authenticity. It allows us to pause, notice, and allow what is occurring without judgement.
So, lady, are you telling us that we are just supposed to be reduced to a blob of passivity with mindfulness?
Mindfulness only allows us the ability to pause and rather than impulsively acting from conditioned responses and behaviors we can actually take wise and compassionate action.
So instead of losing luggage at the airport and having increased anxiety, a fit of controlling behavior resulting in irritability and tension, we can notice what is happening with us, chose to relax and mentally get clear.
With mindfulness we pause, notice all that anxiety in our bodies. Notice how unpleasant it is. Notice the thoughts, beliefs and fears of losing something. Then we take effective action.
The result: a more relaxed state of mind, open heart and clearer decision making.
Mindfulness is kind of a super power. It allows us to bring out the best in ourselves. That badass, kind, wise aspect of awareness that we always have access to no matter what the situation.
And with time and practice, this crazy, shameless mind of ours can actually be befriended.
Where do we sign?!
*Artwork by Chrisolux – @chrisolux