Mindfulness is "...a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future." - Psychology Today
Though often associated with Buddhism, mindfulness is an accepted secular practice and mindfulness-based counseling has become a mainstay in the profession to:
- promote well-being and reduce stress
- increase clarity and focus
- improve memory and increase energy
- promote general quality of life
- change habits
- reduce depression and anxiety
- promote sleep
- reduce chronic pain and lower blood pressure
I like the visual of the iconic image of an ancient farmer, who has a yoke over his shoulders and a bucket hanging off each side. The Past Bucket represents all of those things that have already happened and that we have no control over. I generalize the Past Bucket as depression. The Future Bucket represents all of those things in the future that make us anxious or make us panic- I generalize it as anxiety. The farmer in between the buckets, represents the here and now, the present moment. The farmer is centered between the past and present and represents mindfulness.
We are responsible for these buckets and all that is inside of them. Sometimes, we need to manage the things inside these buckets (our thoughts and emotions). But, we often get trapped in these buckets, forgetting that there is a present moment. The key is to recognize when we are in the buckets. Once we recognize it, we can use that information as a way to springboard us back to the present moment. We can actually use these buckets to remind us to return to the "here and now." The more mindful we become, the more we will recognize when we are in the buckets and that provides the opportunity to live more fully in the present moment.
Our ultimate goal is to be centered, like the farmer, in the present moment, only managing the buckets from time to time, leaving the opportunity to be fully engaged with life.
A daily mindfulness meditation is the easiest way to becoming more mindful. Let me help you integrate mindfulness into your life.