Mindfulness has become a buzz word in the western world, but what is it, what’s the point of it and how can it be possible to find time to fit another practice into busy, chaotic lifestyles?
Fundamentally, mindfulness is present moment awareness - ‘being here now’ - and can actually be easy to integrate in small steps into daily life, however busy or chaotic. There is no one-size-fits all approach, but there are so many little tools to cultivate gratitude, love, self-compassion and moment-to-moment awareness into each day.
With awareness of self and the world around comes change. Let's take a look at the Johari window, a simple yet effective way to explore how much we know about ourselves, how others see us, and how much is yet to be discovered!
The Johari Window
Known to self
(unknown to others)
Known to others
(unknown to self)
(known to self and others)
Self-awareness and authenticity
Exploration of this simple diagram requires honesty with self and others, and at often, vulnerability. However, through gaining a greater understanding of what we know to be true about ourselves that we share openly or don’t share at all, what others know to be true about us, but we don’t see (often lovely qualities we find difficult to accept, or behaviours we have a blind-spot to), there is the possibility to reduce the ‘unknown’, deepen self-awareness and step more fully into our authentic being.
With any form of healing, self-compassion is paramount. Understanding that 80% of our daily interactions in the world as an adult are implicit (habitual reactions based on patterns of behaviour developed through past experience) can help us to navigate the world with greater self-compassion. The mantra “I did the best I could with the resources I had available at the time” can be very powerful in reframing guilt, shame and anger around past situations, as generally, human beings do operate from a place of ‘doing their best’ not to hurt others, or making the best decision available at the time, even if in retrospect it feels like it was the worst decision possible.
So how does this relate to mindfulness? Bringing awareness to the present allows us to notice emotions, reactions and responses in the moment. Approximately 20% of the time, it is likely that these are a true ‘now’ response, but if 80% of our behaviours are implicit (and 80% of our thoughts negatively biased!), mindfulness allows us to take time to truly acknowledge and feel into these as they arise in an embodied way, and ‘catch’ them before we react from a place of the past. Through noticing the moment, taking time to register the internal response and developing this as a new habit, we can retrain our bodies, minds and beings to be authentic in the moment and respond from the now, even if it means taking time to step back from the situation with “Thank you … I need to take some time to sit with this and get back to you” so that you can truly ‘feel into’ whatever came up. This allows the opposite of a dissociated or triggered response, and more genuine, authentic interactions.
The power of a minute!
Catching implicit responses is not the only benefit of mindfulness. When was the last time you stopped to take a minute and appreciate something beautiful, smile at a stranger in the street, or just watch the clouds passing in the sky on a windy day? When we take the time to stop and truly ‘notice’, we begin to see so much colour, vibrancy and joy in the smallest of things. In stopping to look at the patterns of light, shade, veins and multitude of greens, a leaf can become absorbing. Consciously breaking the habit of taking the same route to work with the intention of ‘seeing’ people, buildings or nature can take you out of your mind and into a place of observation.
It takes a fraction of a second for our bodies and minds to respond to, hold onto and absorb danger or a negativity event (think how constantly we are bombarded by these on the news!). It takes a whole minute for our bodies and minds to register and react to a feeling of gratitude, joy, love and compassion. By mindfully ‘catching’ these moments, allowing them, feeling into them and spending only 60 seconds with them, our bodies not only release a whole host of chemicals such as oxytocin (the happy hormone), but we bring this into our embodied experience. With mindful awareness, practice, and making this noticing a habitual response, it is absolutely possible to live a happier, more joyful, more present life.
Mindful Tools for Everyday Life
See something beautiful?
Take 60 seconds to explore it, touch it, see it, smile and embody your 'experience'.