What is Mindfulness?
By Alissa Rodgers
Mindfulness is becoming quite the buzzword these days. A growing number of people are talking about mindful and meditative practices that have helped them manage stress, anxiety and/or depression and live a healthier and happier life.
While the majority of yoga classes are focused on gifting you with the many physical benefits of yoga, what I have found through 16 years of my own practice and 10 years of holding space for others to practice is the mental benefits we gain through yoga are what end up bringing the most positive change for people. There are now lots of books on mindfulness as well as online resources. Here, I hope to give you a quick overview so you can understand what is meant by the term. I’ll also share a few quick and easy ways to begin brining a greater sense of mindfulness into your life.
What is mindfulness? One of my favorite ways to define mindfulness is inspired by meditation teacher and author Jon Kabat-Zinn – “fully facing and embracing each moment as it is.” Other words commonly used to describe mindfulness are awareness, presence, consciousness, enlightenment. The way I see it, mindfulness is more than being aware in a moment. That’s certainly the first step, but beyond that it’s being in each moment with a clear and focused mind as well as an open and accepting heart.
How mindfully are you currently living life? We don’t really know until we start to bring awareness to how often we are and aren’t fully focused, present, clear-headed, open hearted.
Good places to check-in:
-While driving: are you completely present with what’s happening around you or are you distracted by irrelevant thoughts or your phone? See if on one of your drives this week all you do is focus on driving.
-While showering: are you fully immersed in what you are doing and enjoying those few minutes of peace for yourself or are you thinking about your to-do list, today’s schedule or conversations you need to have with people? See if during one of your showers this week you can fully embrace every moment of the shower and what each moment offers.
-While having conversations with others: are you fully listening or are you thinking about what you are going to say next or off in another thought? See if during one conversation this week you resist thinking and instead fully listen to what the other person is saying. Listen with your eyes, your body and your heart, as well as your ears.
Remember that being distracted is the norm these days. Have compassion with yourself as you start this journey of becoming more present, aware and awake in your life. Remember that every time you catch yourself in the past or future and make the choice to get back to what is happening right now, you are strengthening your muscles of mindfulness, focus and presence.
Your presence, after all, is the best gift you can give.
Looking to jumpstart a meditation practice and ultimately a greater sense of mindfulness in your life? Check-out my Intro to Meditation series here. You’ll learn a variety of meditation practices so you can find one that works well for you!
Alissa Rodgers, eRYT500, is the founder and CEO of GoYoga. She fell into yoga after the birth of her first son. Feeling desperate to lose baby weight, reconnect to her body as well as find a sense of community, she tried yoga after the urging of her best friend. While she did not love it at first, she kept going back 2-3 times a week because she had started to feel different. Sure enough the extra weight began to fall off, but more importantly she began to feel more energetic, clear and confident than she’d ever felt before. It was the mental and energetic benefits that ended up having the most impact on her life. This eventually led to opening her own yoga studios (which total 8 now in the Columbus, Ohio area), leading yoga teacher trainings and providing both in person and virtual offerings that share the powerful tools and effects of yoga, meditation and mindfulness with people of all types. On top of being a business owner, she’s a single mom of 3 boys and therefore she understands the busyness, overwhelm and stress we can often feel. This is why she is passionate about inspiring people to commit to mindful practices of self care. We cannot serve others well if we first don’t take care of ourselves.