Mindfulness has been around for centuries, but it’s only recently gained attention and popularity as a key component of mental well-being. The reason for it being such a buzzword these days is that it helps us live in the moment, be present, and stay calm. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that is not only about relaxing but also about self-awareness.
The Basics of Mindfulness and How It Relates To Awareness
Mindfulness is a practice of intentional, present-moment awareness. It requires us to be conscious and attentive to our thoughts, feelings, and environment without judgment or attachment. Our brains are designed to quickly shift between different thoughts, which can lead to a lack of awareness of our everyday experiences and create anxiety and stress that wouldn’t otherwise exist. So, the key focus in mindfulness is not allowing ourselves to get distracted or attached to thoughts that pull us into the future or past. This practice also teaches us to observe our thoughts and emotions as if they were separate from us, rather than getting absorbed by them. This allows us to respond to them in a healthy way, rather than reacting impulsively.
Bodily Awareness and Self-regulation:
Being mindful of our bodily sensations can provide invaluable insight into our feelings. Not only does it allow us to understand our emotions better, but it can also help us recognize physical signs of tension or stress that could impact our mental and physical states. As we become more aware of these sensations, we can learn how to address them effectively.
How to use mindfulness to self-regulate:
Take notice of physical sensations – When triggered, our body can send clear signals. These signals may include a tightness in the chest or stomach, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate. Noticing these reactions in the moment allows us to make conscious choices about how to respond.
Name the emotion – Once you’ve noticed your physical sensations, it can be helpful to name the emotion that is arising. This allows us to recognize our feelings without judgment or criticism and helps us understand why we feel this way.
Focus on your breath – Breathwork is a great way to calm yourself in the moment. It allows your nervous system to relax, which will help us to shift focus away from whatever is triggering us.
Choose your response – Now that we have brought awareness to our reaction to a stimulus, we can take a few moments to pause and think about the best course of action before responding. This gives us time to make conscious choices to prevent us from reacting in a way that we may regret later.
By using these strategies, mindfulness can help us to understand better and regulate our emotions so that we can make more conscious choices. It is an incredibly powerful tool for self-regulation and emotional health.
Engagements and Bliss:
When we’re mindful, we’re more engaged in our experiences and allow ourselves to enjoy the small pleasures in life fully. For instance, by taking the time to appreciate the beauty of nature, we become more aware of our surroundings and can develop a deeper connection to them. Living with a mindful attitude helps us gain perspective on the moments of joy around us and makes it easier to access the sense of awe that comes from being in tune with life.
Are you familiar with the phrase “living like you're dying”? The ego can easily interpret it as living life carelessly—i.e., emptying your bank account, maxing out credit cards, and potentially engaging in risky and impulsive behaviors. However, you don’t have to splurge to acquire a state of bliss. At its core, this phrase means taking advantage of every opportunity and experiencing the pleasure, beauty, and connection life naturally offers. It is understanding that every moment matters, even the seemingly mundane ones — these can be filled with bliss if we take the time to observe them.
For example, when practicing mindfulness, one might become captivated and in awe by something as simple as a speck of dust illuminated by the sun that slowly drifts and dances through the air until it finds its place of rest.
Yes, bliss and contentment can be that simple and available if you allow it.
Self-reflection: Getting to Know YOU
We often think we have a good understanding of ourselves, believing our ego identity to be the defining factor of who we are. This includes labels like our name, age, gender, ethnicity, hobbies, and career, which comprise our outward persona. But the true self is not necessarily visible. Our true self is our deeper essence of being that gives us a feeling of peace, comfort, joy, and connection. When we become mindful of our self, we can tap into our intrinsic motivators and values to understand and heal emotional wounds.
The discovery of our true self requires commitment, dedication, and patience. Start by spending time alone in reflection and contemplation each day to observe your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself questions such as “What do I value?” or “What brings me peace?” This will help you develop a better understanding of your inner core. Regular meditation and mindfulness practices can also help you stay connected to your true self.
By becoming mindful of our true selves, we can access inner strength and wisdom that will empower us to live authentically. We learn to accept and love ourselves for who we are, no matter what labels or roles society places on us.