Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.
When I started being mindful of my own thoughts and feelings, all the frustrations, anger, and even my own resentments and thought about them objectively, it was hard. I was stuck in Toxic Shame, accepting the blame that others placed on me for the situation we found ourselves in. Over time, it became easier…
To live mindfully is to live in the moment and reawaken oneself to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. To be mindful is to observe and label thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body in an objective manner. Mindfulness can therefore be a tool to avoid self-criticism and judgment while identifying and managing difficult emotions.
Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu teachings. Buddhism includes a journey toward enlightenment, and the concept of “sati,”—which encompasses attention, awareness, and being present—is considered the first step toward enlightenment. The term was roughly translated from the ancient language Pali into the term “mindfulness.”
The emergence of mindfulness in Western culture can be attributed to Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn studied mindfulness under several Buddhist teachers, such as Philip Kapleau and Thich Nhat Hanh. As a professor at the University of Massachusetts medical school in the late 1970s, Kabat-Zinn developed a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to treat chronic pain. He discovered that patients would often try to avoid pain—but that that avoidance would lead to deeper distress. Practicing mindfulness was a more successful approach.
As mindfulness shifted into mainstream science and medicine, it became a pivotal therapeutic technique; it was integrated into Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, among others.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness encompasses two key ingredients: awareness and acceptance. Awareness is the knowledge and ability to focus attention on one’s inner processes and experiences, such as the experience of the present moment. Acceptance is the ability to observe and accept—rather than judge or avoid—those streams of thought.
When I first started with mindfulness a couple of years ago, I would sit and write out my feelings and then re-read them like I was reading someone else’s writings. It helped me become more aware of my emotions and what was driving me to have them.
I noticed when writing of my fears how improbable they really were, as I came to the awareness that these Adult Bullies are not powerful, they don’t have any mindreading skills, and they are not God’s either, able to influence others into their way of thinking. I came to accept that my fear of being recognized and attacked because of these Anonymous writer’s words in some vague personally titled domain in my name, was unreasonable and totally impossible. I came to see this situation more objectively and it helped me immensely.
These sites are personally titled and unless you know what to look for, they won’t just show up in searches either. I was terrified for nothing!
I sat down in 2021 and re-read every single document and email they sent me, using my new tools, and I saw the whole picture, not just the fears it created in my head. I saw their words for what it was and saw my own reactions too, for what they were. It opened my eyes!
What is the purpose of mindfulness?
The goal of mindfulness is to cultivate perspective on one’s consciousness and identity that can bring greater peace mentally and relationally. Mindfulness may also be used in mindfulness-based therapies, to address stress, anxiety, or pain, and simply to become more relaxed.
I have used mindfulness to help with my stress and anxiety and it does help me relax. I sit and look at the situation objectively, not emotionally, anymore. I think of all the experiences I have already had that I managed to get through already in my lifetime, and I know I can survive this too.
A person’s experience of time tends to be subjective and heavily influenced by their emotional state. Fears and insecurities about the past and the future can make it difficult to fully appreciate the present. The key is learning how to pay attention.
Mindfulness can take place through meditation sessions or smaller moments throughout the day. To cultivate a state of mindfulness, you can begin by sitting down and taking deep breaths. Focus on each breath and the sensations of the moment, such as sounds, scents, the temperature, and the feeling of air passing in and out of the body.
Shift your attention, then, to the thoughts and emotions that you’re experiencing. Allow each thought to exist without judging it or ascribing negativity to it. Sit with those thoughts. The experience may evoke a strong emotional reaction. Exploring that response can be an opportunity to address or resolve underlying challenges.
Learning mindfulness for the first time, it is easier to do the breathing exercises until you get used to them before getting into your thoughts and emotion, as you will have strong reactions that can derail your progress!
How do I practice mindfulness?
To cultivate awareness, observe your thoughts and emotions and explore why those specific ideas might be surfacing. To cultivate acceptance, avoid judging or pushing away unpleasant thoughts. Emotions are natural and everyone has them—acknowledging them can help you understand yourself better and move forward.
Practicing mindfulness is about reaching acceptance of the unpleasant emotions you are having. Every emotion is natural to have on any given day and can be used to help you understand yourself better and learn new ways of doing things. The trick is to look at your thoughts and feelings objectively, not emotionally.
How can I be more mindful?
Mindfulness can help bring you into the present moment throughout the day. As you wake up, you can focus on your breathing and the way your body gradually becomes more energized. You can incorporate a brief meditation into your work day, perhaps on your lunch break, and focus and appreciate the experience of eating during meals.
Being mindful is focusing on the present and appreciating all that you have at that moment. For me, going outside in Mother Mature that I am surrounded by here in NL, was where I first learned how to do this. I would focus on where I was at that moment, seeing the scenery all around me, taking in the smells and all the different sounds, focusing on each one, not on the thoughts in my head. I would sit in my yard and look at the sky, watching the wind bounce around the leaves and over time, I felt a peace come over me.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is frequently used in meditation and certain kinds of therapy. Its benefits include lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, and protecting against depression and anxiety. Research even suggests that mindfulness can help people better cope with rejection and social isolation.
I have had wonderful benefits from being mindful over the past couple of years as it helped get me out of the harmful ruminating I was doing and released most of my anxiety. It has also helped me deal with the sense of isolation I was feeling from being a Target of such nastiness too!
Here I was, being mocked and humiliated by STRANGERS and I was silly enough to allow it to get to me. Yes, I was rejected by them, but when you really consider that, it is no great loss to me. I don’t think anyone would want people who behave as they do, in their lives anyway and I know I don’t.
Being mindful for me is accepting of realities, not the negative thinking in my head generated by their nasty words against me. In the end, I came to accept that their words and actions don’t matter.