What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment, on purpose and without judgement. So what, you might say; that sounds easy enough, how hard can it be and why should it be called “mindfulness”. In actuality it’s not that easy to do – try it! Pause for just one minute, close your eyes and breathe. What happens? Your mind is probably working away trying to solve the problem of what you’re supposed to be doing and no doubt there’s a commentary going on in your mind about what you are doing and why you are doing it and whether you think it’s worth doing or not and so on and on and on. You’ve not done anything wrong, in fact, even that brief momentary exercise has helped you to see that your mind is busy, busy, busy, all the time thinking, thinking, thinking. You’ve just been mindful!

These days we live our lives in auto-pilot, we do things automatically, without thinking about what we’re doing. In fact, our mind is usually off on a journey of its own maybe planning what we’re supposed to be doing next or worrying about something that has happened in the day and all this happens at the same time as we’re doing whatever we are doing right now! In a way we are multi-tasking and usually we’re very proud of our ability to multi-task, it’s seen as a good thing, a good skill to cultivate especially in the workplace. However, this wonderful ability we have of multi-tasking can be a double edged sword for we miss the only moment we can actually live – this moment, the present moment, right now!

Mindfulness is a skill and like any other skill you need to practice regularly to improve and to notice your improvement. Try this simple exercise every day to bring a little mindful awareness to your day and to begin your journey with mindfulness…

Each time you brush your teeth do it mindfully, even if only for a few moments. As you begin brushing, bring your awareness to what you are doing “now” – in this moment. Slow down the rate of brushing. Notice the angle of your hand on the toothbrush. Notice the position of your arm while brushing. Notice the angle of the toothbrush head on your teeth. Notice the feel of the toothbrush in your mouth, the taste of the toothpaste, also the taste of the toothbrush. Notice the feel of the bristles on your teeth and gums. Notice where your thoughts are while you are doing this activity and perhaps where your thoughts were just before you brought your mindful attention to this activity. Quite simply – just notice what you are doing and thinking, right now.

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