By Savanna Deluca of The Muddy Lotus
Mindfulness is a new buzzword that is popping up in a variety of contexts with myriad different meanings, but at its core mindfulness is about paying attention – without judgment.
A former professor shared a story with my class about a personal awakening she had in early adulthood:
She was strolling through the grocery store feeling proud of herself for being so mature. She was married with a baby and a new house; she was really doing this adult thing right! She didn’t need anyone to tell her what to do or how to live because she had it all figured out. Then, in the midst of her self-glorification it occurs to her that she may as well be looking at her mother’s shopping cart. The orange juice, paper towels, dish soap were all the same brands her mother purchased and were the same brands she had been using her entire life, without any consideration of what she actually liked.
This story is perfectly demonstrates the simplicity of Mindfulness. Many of us are moving through life without thoughtful consideration of why we do the things we do. “Just because” and “that’s the way things are” have never been sufficient answers for me but even I have fallen into bad habits and draining routines without much consideration. The easy way through life is to do what you think everyone else is doing or what you are supposed to do.
Doing things out of habit isn’t inherently bad, such as using your parents preferred brands of laundry soap, but it is much less gratifying than considering all the options and spending your money on the things that matter to you. You may find that another brand has a lower price, your favorite scent, is more eco-friendly, or any number of other concerns that may be important to you that weren’t to your mother. What other choices do you make on a daily basis that could add up to big changes in your lifestyle? Consider the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the shows you watch, and the hobbies you engage in. Are you making those choices because they are serving you and bringing you joy or because they are just old habits?
When practicing Mindfulness we take the time to first be present with what is by bringing our attention to the current moment with curiosity, not judgment. For my professor the Mindful moment of her story was the moment she realized she was going through the motions of shopping without any consideration. Her Mindfulness practice moving forward is to bring awareness to the items she buys and to make choices accordingly. She may still choose to purchase all the same products because she likes them and they work for her needs, but with Mindfulness she can feel confident knowing she made the decision for herself.
Now take a step back to look at the bigger picture. It is one thing to buy the same household items as our parents, but many of us are making much bigger decisions without worthy reasons. Do you know anyone that went to the university of their parents’ choice, got married too young because it was the ‘next step’, took a job they didn’t really want for the wrong reasons, etc.? It is not uncommon for people to live their lives to fulfill the expectations of others. However, you don’t have to!
A big problem is that many people DON’T KNOW what they want! They have never taken the time to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings; they don’t really know themselves.
If this sounds like you, do not fear! Mindfulness is a practice that can begin anywhere at anytime. It begins by taking time to pay attention to yourself through your physical, mental, and emotional experiences.
Mindfulness practice can be done through formal meditation by sitting for a period of time and focusing attention on the breath, physical sensations, and noticing thoughts as they come and go.
Or a Mindfulness practice can be woven into your daily routine by spending a few extra moments to savor your coffee each morning, take a new route to work, and/or notice when you feel emotional and what caused that emotion. As you pay attention to your daily experience you will learn more about what brings you satisfaction and what doesn’t so you can develop a fulfilling lifestyle.
It isn’t easy at first and you will find your mind wandering often and you’ll fall into old habits. That’s okay! If you notice your mind wandering off, great job because you are NOTICING! This is a lifetime practice to develop a fulfilling lifestyle. Be patient and kind with yourself through this process. It won’t be fast or easy but you can start today and the more you incorporate Mindfulness practices into your life the greater the benefits of cultivating your practice.
Please share your thoughts on and experiences of your Mindfulness journey in the comment section.
Savanna DeLuca, mind-body coach and founder of Muddy Lotus, is a Yoga Teacher (RYT 200) and is currently earning her MA in Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Integrative Health Services. She believes that a Mindfulness-Based lifestyle is the best way to find peace and satisfaction through daily living. She brings enthusiasm and an open mind to her classes, lectures and workshops and encourages clients to do the same.