Mindfulness gives you time, time gives you choices.
Choices skillfully made, lead to freedom.
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
For many mindfulness brings to mind someone sat meditating, practicing yoga, in a state of zen. Yet mindfulness I am learning is much more and instead embraces how we live life, treat others and deal with situations and circumstances that come our way.
So to know what Mindfulness is it is helpful to know what the opposite is.
The arch nemesis of Mindfulness is Mindlessness.
So what makes them different and how can each impact on how we view life, interact with others and improve our emotional wellbeing?
I like to think of mindlessness as like living in a wooden box. It’s cramped, ridged and limiting. When we are mindlessness we are limited by rules. We are also trapped, unable to move or think beyond the constraints of ‘our box’. These often result in automatic learned behaviours and unhealthy boundaries.
This means we are often trapped by labels. These labels can be ones we assign our self or others. This in turn them limits us. Someone may labels us as sensitive and this can cause us to take on the mantle of what we may feel sensitive means, it can then lead us to behaving in a way that we think a ‘sensitive person would act’. When we limits how we define our self it can leave us closed to change, the belief that ‘this is who I am’ or ‘I cant change’. When we are mindless we are often unaware of self, where we are and where we want to be.
Mindlessness also leads us to having a single perspective, the view of our comfortable box! We can be unwilling to see the perspectives of others, believing the only true perspective is ours. I SEE. I BELIEVE. I THINK. These then dominate our thoughts, conversation and actions.
The result can be a life that is limited. where change or new possibilities are impossible. Where things change but we and our behaviour does not.
So how does being Mindful differ?
Mindfulness is not about us but how we impact the world around us. It is about being grounded in the present with self awareness of how we got here. Mindfulness is open and curious, it is thinking and living outside the box.
Mindfulness is creative of new labels. It allows us to change and adapt, a constant state of reflectiveness. We are not trapped by set views or ideas but seek to learn and widen our understanding of life and others. It also stops us assigning labels to others, thus interacting with others as individuals without judgement.
This leads to embracing new information, being less judgemental with an awareness and respect of others views. In fact we will be willing to consider multiple views being aware of others life experiences and perspectives leading to unconditional acceptance. As such we offer well considered responses, stopping, looking, listening and thinking of the impact we can have on others. We seek an understanding of what we do not know.
Our life becomes wanting to enhance things for others and not the goal to be liked. It also means that instead of seeking to ‘always be right’, we seek instead to embrace others growing in understanding together.
This also allows for the setting of health boundaries that support our emotional wellbeing and others too.
Mindfulness isn’t just meditation but how we live life. It is a state of peace and acceptance. It includes everything that makes us who we are, however we define that be it body, spirit and soul.
We have a choice to be mindful or mindless, to live in the box or see the world that exists beyond it.