The word mindful seems to indicate two things – that’s it’s about your mind and it’s about it being full just by the nature of how the word is constructed. It seems to mean an exercise where you keep your mind full. Where mindfulness is actually about the opposite.
I believe that leads to a lot of misconceptions about mindfulness. It makes it seem like a brain focused exercise. Yet mindfulness actually focuses on making sure you are aligned in your spirit, mind and body. It takes the focus that is in your brain and brings it away from going in circles. Which it tends to do, since we are so focused on our cognitive capabilities. It has a lot to do with the way society is built these days, you would think we are a mass of minds. Our times are known as the “Age of Information’ – the driving force behind it being the internet, bringing us newer and faster forms of entertainment, commerce, research, work, and communication. Most jobs only focus on using your intelligence, education is set up to focus on your brain power – skills when it comes to your body and spirit are less asked for and wanted. It is natural almost to think that we are only minds and only needed for our knowledge.
But what people tend to forget is that your mind is only as good as your body. You cannot think straight if you are in pain, you cannot be logical if you are suffering from mental distortions, there are so many elements that impact us as a package that we are – mind, body and spirit (some call it soul). So how do you get out of your head and better connected with your body? Mindfulness. Because what mindfulness means is being aware of your mind taking over, and moving this focus to the other part that make you a whole.
One exercise is for example scanning your body from the top of your head down to your toes – seeing what areas may house tension and what other areas feel tension free. It’s a way of getting in tune with your body we tend to neglect. I do this every day and find it surprising over and over again which areas of my body feel tension. Sometime pain arises that I am not even sure how I managed to get a good night’s sleep. It is scary how much of our body and its signals we tend to push aside to enable our minds to deliver. An important thing to remember is that aligned body means an aligned mind.
Another exercise is even more simple – it’s just asking yourself how you feel. And not stopping at “good” or “fine” – those terms do not suffice. There is no benefit of lying to yourself. Check in with your spirit by making your emotions aware to yourself. Sometimes we find we are doing much better than we thought, which leads to more happiness and sometimes things arise we know we need to work on or address so we can be happy in the long run. Remember not to be judgmental or to force yourself to feel any different. Often just being there for yourself and acknowledging your feelings will do wonders for your spirit.
So be mindful in the sense of what it truly means – being aware of yourself, your body, mind and spirit.
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