We hear about mindfulness an awful lot.
But what is it?
Mindfulness is an intention to live in the present.
This sounds simple but it takes practice, a lot of practice, to get good at it.
I think of mindfulness as holding space for myself.
Instead of being caught in the cycle of stress-and-react, mindfulness is the pause.
That allows me to breathe. Intentionally.
And process my thoughts.
The gift of mindfulness allows me to be present with myself.
Which means I notice my feelings.
I have time to formulate a response.
And I feel each moment fully.
Mindfulness is a mental discipline that I have chosen to build in my neural pathways.
Yes, it’s taken time.
But time passes anyway.
Mindfulness feels like a good investment to me.
There are two parts to my mindfulness practice:
The formal part
This is the ten minutes I spend every morning and most evenings by myself. I sit in the same place. I use the same timer. I always brush my teeth first.
All I do is breathe and count: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 … and back to zero.
If only it were that easy!
When I notice I’ve stopped counting each breath and find myself lost in thought, I smile and start the count again.
Most nights there is some repetition of this pattern 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2, 3 ….
I’m getting pretty good at the binary code 😂
This ‘formal’ practice teaches me to focus. I’m aware of the breaths coming into my body and leaving my body. I’m in tune with quietening my busy mind.
It’s peaceful. It’s relaxing.
And it’s a practice.
That ripples into the second piece.
The informal part
Where life takes over and I forget about being peaceful and calm in the moment.
When my son says, “Mum, I can’t get my car fixed this weekend. It will have to stay put (in pieces in the garage) until next weekend.”
Or my daughter says, “It won’t take me long to do that. I’ll be home by 10 and I promise I’ll be quiet (bang, crash).”
That’s the real practice.
Tip of my tongue is a cutting remark and some shouting. The go-to, imprinted reactions that have guided my parenting until the past few years.
But more often now, these times are less.
By holding space for myself it’s much easier to focus on the relationship.
Because using the space to pause allows me time to think about what it is that’s most important to say.
The messages that will get both of our needs met going forward.
And delivering them with presence, love, and authenticity.