Mindfulness, as a word, is used a lot today. It also has become a popular buzzword. Available to us are numerous apps, best-selling books, retreats (on zoom), online courses from major Universities, and more.
It has been over 35 years since I learned about Mindfulness. Today we are in the midst of a mindful revolution, a revolution being driven both by scientific research and the need to expand and develop an expanded capacity for care, respect, compassion, and honor.
Our aim is to go on a journey together using some of the principles and practices of Mindfulness to guide us. As an Ontological Coach and Co-founder of Ideal Coaching Global a certificate coaching school, I can attest that a mindfulness practice adds greater awareness, resilience, and compassion for the lives of the people we serve as we embrace a new emerging worldview. We recognize we are all embedded in a broader socio-economic system, interdependent with the more comprehensive ecological system.
“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns… We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.” -Tara Brach-
Why is mindfulness practice so important?
Mindfulness is the perfect foundation and bridge we can use to assist us in navigating our journey together. Mindfulness is a bridge that grants us a deeper understanding of what is currently present within and around us. With anxiety, depression, and stress prevalent globally, mindfulness practice has never been more necessary than it is today.
Research shows many benefits to Mindfulness:
♦ Reduce anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges
♦ Balance and regulate emotions
♦ Improves immune system functioning
♦ Enhances sleep quality and reduces insomnia
♦ Increased self-awareness and awareness of others
♦ Reduce the experience of pain♦
♦ Strengthened cognitive effectiveness
♦ Increased self-compassion and empathy
♦ Improved decision-making ability
♦ Deepen one’s sense of meaning and connection to the world
♦ Experience greater creativity
♦ Strengthen one’s appreciation and respect for the natural environment
♦ Develop higher levels of resilience and emotional intelligence
♦ Improve communication and relationships
♦ Heighten one’s capacity for focus and attention
♦ Bring about a sense of harmony and understanding.
Developing Mindfulness takes practice. We are so used to going through our days not thinking or being aware, that it will startle you once you start practicing the art of Mindfulness. Through this deliberate mental practice, you will become more aware of everything, and experience it in the present moment versus living in the past or being trapped in our projections of the future.
All Mindfulness involves some form of meditation practice. There are lots of misconstrued ideas about meditation, especially in western civilization. Let’s take a moment to understand what Mindfulness is not:
– Not Having Any Emotion. When you start to practice Mindfulness, you will see that it does not relieve you from your emotions. If you are experiencing tough times in your life, it is easy to want to become mindless about everything surrounding you. Mindfulness is not mindless.
Because you are taking time to stop and become aware of your mind’s contents, you become aware of and notice your emotions in a much more vivid fashion. Amazingly, your ability to recognize your feelings and emotions will increase as you release your normal defenses. You will find that letting go of destructive distractions (i.e., over-eating, smartphones) will give a more profound sense of who and what you are -which is whole and complete.
– Not Wiping Your Mind Clean. Mindfulness is a way of training and transforming the mind. It is also about bringing together the body and heart.
“Mindfulness is simply a practical way to be more in touch with the fullness of your being through a systematic process of self-observation, self-inquiry, and mindful action. There is nothing cold, analytical, or unfeeling about it. The overall tenor of mindfulness practice is gentle, appreciative, and nurturing. Another way to think of it would be ‘heartfulness’.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn-
Instead, you will become aware of your thoughts in the present moment and how your thoughts shape your reality. We don’t want you to empty your mind or lose your sense. We want you to be present.
– Not Seeking a Blissful Life. Some people would love to live in a state of utopia, thinking they have hit upon a spiritual being higher than themselves (God-like spiritual is not what we are talking about). A lot of people who practice meditation become distressed when they find their minds wandering. They can feel a sense of agitation or become unsettled at the thought. If you are practicing Mindful meditation, you allow pleasant states of mind to come and go, not holding onto blissful states or rejecting unpleasant ones.
– Not Withdrawing from Life. Practicing Mindfulness allows for an openness and welcoming of Life with authentic power and care. Being present in the moment is the gift of presence and pure possibility.
2021, Bettie J. Spruill