We’ve all heard of the benefits of mindfulness, but when we think about making it part of our day, resistance often surfaces. We think this “stay present” thing is for hippies. Or that it demands a radical lifestyle change. Or worse, that we will need to be “on” 24/7. Consider for a moment the images and feelings you hold around mindfulness. Then ask yourself if they’re realistic.
Let’s briefly explore some of the myths of Mindfulness.
No-one can be mindful every moment of every day. We can take that off the table right now.
Mindfulness is not the exclusive domain of yogis.
And it’s not an automatic gateway to a full throttle “spiritual” life.
(It’s all your choice. In fact, mindfulness doesn’t work unless you choose to try it).
Mindfulness is free, transformative, and available to every one of us. Right here. Right now.
We can all start by sprinkling mindfulness through our day.
Consider your last conversation. Maybe it was a chat in the car with your child, or a work colleague caught you in the elevator for a last-minute request. Your aging mother called and wanted to ask about your weekend.
Quick! On a scale of one to ten, how present were you?
How closely did you listen to the other person? Can you recall three things you touched on during your conversation? How would you describe their tone? Sure, we register primary emotions such as happiness or sadness. Let’s get more nuanced. Did they sound rushed, or melancholy? Did you pick up a trace of nostalgia, or wistfulness? Did silence emerge to hint at something unspoken? Did they change the subject a bit abruptly, signalling a topic that might be painful?
“Active Listening” is a genuine gift we can infuse in any conversation. It simply means giving someone our undivided attention: no glancing at our phones or thinking about what to pick up from the store on our way home. And it means resisting the urge (some days better than others) to think about what we’re going to say in response. Sure, it feels odd to begin with. But it becomes easier every time we try.
Mindfulness is a power you can tap every day. It will enrich all your relationships. And just as easily, you can use it alone to become more present in your surroundings, wherever you might find yourself.
It might even become your superpower.