Mindfulness is when you fully attend the happenings of life. The happenings of the present moment may be filled with challenges, and it is as important to experience challenges as it is the joys of life. The challenge of mindfulness presents us with the opportunity to become fully present. The mind’s natural tendency is to veer away from the present moment, and when this happens the mind starts to ruminate about the past, or worry about the future. Concern about the past and future are where anxiety begins. This is when understanding and practicing mindfulness can be beneficial.
Characteristics of Mindfulness
Equanimity is an essential quality of mindfulness. Equanimity is characterized by a maintained state of psychological composure that is almost impenetrable. This state of composure is rarely disrupted by emotions, pain and other day to day challenges. In the face of stress or an unpleasant situation, a calm and even temperament remains when there is a maintained state of equanimity.
In order to maintain a state of equanimity it is key to remain fully present. Being present requires adopting a “start where you are mentality.” There is always some level of dissatisfaction with circumstances in life, but equanimity prevents dissatisfaction from detouring you from the present moment. Ruminating on any dissatisfaction is the cause of significant suffering and you cannot be in calm and crisis at the same time. Viewing the present moment as a starting point can help you move forward with a sense of equanimity.
Benefits of Mindfulness
One of the primary benefits of mindfulness is the reduction of stress. Like equanimity, mindfulness encourages pause. Taking pause, identifying the situation, challenge , or circumstance at hand, and then choosing your response is not only a practice of mindfulness but a practice that negates negative emotions.
Staying aware and practicing mindfulness serves as a reminder that you do not have to be swept away in challenging emotions. This can also help you to more assertively practice your right to say no. Saying no is an essential practice in maintaining equanimity and practicing mindfulness. Practice maintaining a state of equanimity will protect you from the anxiety that can sometimes come from saying no, especially when you usually do not. Mindfully saying no looks like protecting your time, space and energy when it is most important. Saying no helps you balance your needs and the needs of others. Saying no also fosters confidence. All of these practices and characteristics are closely related to one another.
Furthermore, being mindful connects you to the present moment. This looks like being aware of where you are and what you are doing. This is a continuous practice, but when you begin to observe the present moment, you also begin to experience heartfelt acceptance for whatever you might be facing, good or bad. Mindfulness suspends judgment and unleashes natural curiosity about how the mind works.
You are already equipped with mindfulness, you just have to learn how to access these tools.
Practicing Mindfulness through Meditation
Practicing meditation brings forward the innate quality of mindfulness. Mindfulness can help connect you to the best version of yourself. Remember anyone can be mindful, mindfulness is a universal human quality and it does not require changing your beliefs. The world is full of complexities and uncertainties. Mindfulness has the power to make you more resilient and innovative.
Meditation grounds you into the present moment helping you to become fully aware of your mind, aware of where you are, and aware of what is going on. All of this starts in your body.
Simple Meditation Guidelines
Preparing for mediation only requires you to set aside a minute, or a few minutes.
You can sit in your car. On a chair, on the floor, against a wall, on a meditation cushion, in the grass, or on a park bench. Find a comfortable and stable seat. Become aware of what your legs are doing. If your legs can be comfortably crossed, cross them; if you need a different seat connect the soles of your feet to the surface beneath you. Sit tall, but do not be rigid.
Let your arms fall into a rested position and let your hands fall into a natural position on top of your legs, or in your lap.
Your gaze is important. Close your eyes, or gaze down over the tip of your nose. A steady gaze is important.
Stay in this position for a few minutes. Observe your thoughts without getting too caught up in any one thought, let your thought go and carry on to the next one. Relax into this moment. That’s it.
Give yourself compassion. This is a simple process, but it is not necessarily an easy process. There is no better time to start than now.