- Stephanie Holliday
What is mindfulness:
Mindfulness is a technique.
A tool in your toolbox.
A way for you to gain clarity, perspective and grounding. A way to control the mind, reduce anxiety and heal emotions.
Its a skill that can be learned, a method you can use, all day long, to create self mastery.
And you should be doing it.
Let's not confuse it with spiritualism or religion. It is simply about becoming aware.
The ability to watch, to witness, to become present, to not be mindless.
A lot of our actions are formed through habit. Using mindfulness you can break apart the habits of a lifetime and create new healthy patterns.
Let's look at the example of frustration. Frustration is a mild form of anger, and I imagine we all experience it from time to time. Waiting in line at a busy store, when expectations are not met or maybe when your child is simply testing limits.
With mindfulness, you can watch the frustration arise and instead of speaking out of the frustration, you begin to look at it, to notice the sensations in the body, to watch the thoughts circulating in the mind around and about the frustration, to notice what your habit action is (what you want to do or say). This can all take place in a matter of seconds.
As you watch all of this take place within yourself, you gain a higher perspective, you learn about yourself, your reactions and your habits. And then you choose the path of peace. Ask yourself what is the best, most peaceful way to respond.
Returning to the example of frustration, I can feel this multiple times thoughout the day with my young children. They are great young children and I love spending my time with them, but moments of frustration still arise. And when they do, I use all of these techniques, and then choose talk to them through love rather than frustraion. That can include firmness, boundaries and re-directing behaviour, but I am speaking in a kind tone of voice and choosing words that speak love into their lives rather than anger.
As one continues to work with mindfulness in this way: to notice emotions, reactions, habits and to regulate them in healthy ways, the patterns of our lifetime begin to dismantle. The brain actually creates new neuro-pathways, and new ways of speaking/living/acting become possible.
Neuroscience research, shows that mindfulness practice increases the connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. These parts of the brain help us to be less reactive to stress and to recover better from stress when we experience it.