Mindfulness - what does it mean?

Mindfulness seems to be a buzz word at the moment - everyone is talking about trying to squeeze a half-hour of 'mindfulness' into their busy days. Isn’t it a little contradictory, though, racing about like mad, spending the obligatory 30 minutes “quietening the mind” and then racing back off at full speed to work our way through our list of tasks for the day?

While this can certainly be a useful tool, true mindfulness is about being in the moment while you go about your day, no matter what you are doing. I’m yet to meet anyone who can achieve this all the time, but I don’t think working towards this necessarily means spending four months of the year with Monks in Tibetan high country.

Mindfulness is about being aware. Being mindful does not mean staying calm and unaffected all day, but rather noticing when we feel anger or frustration (or whatever) and perhaps pondering why for a second. The act of noticing our mood or emotion often seems to dissipate those feelings enough to prevent that downward spiral into what we think of as 'having a bad day' - which is really just a perception that the world is against us. We notice the frowns and not the smiles when interacting with others. We feel the traffic is worse than usual or the kids are being “difficult”, when really it is our internal state that makes it seem so. 

Regretfully, I rarely make the time to sit down and meditate or listen to a relaxation recording, but I do find stepping back from a situation, taking a deep breath and reminding myself of the bigger picture (I love my kids, I love my job and I love my husband: what do I have to be grumpy about?) helps me to be a little less reactive and a little more proactive.