“Mindfulness has to be experienced to be known. It can’t be expressed adequately in words. A moment of mindfulness is a kind of awareness that comes before words, such as the twinkling of stars before we call them the Big Dipper or a dash of red at the door before we recognize it as a friend wearing a new red dress. Our brains go through this preverbal level of awareness all the time, but we’re normally too caught up in the drama of everyday life to notice.” Christopher K. Germer “the mindful path to self-compassion”
Our focus this week was on the third component of the Self-Compassion model (see menu at top), mindfulness. This is my favourite because I find that practicing mindfulness on a daily basis gives me such good ground to walk on. A more solid foundation in an ever-changing world. It anchors me to my experiences.
Being kind to myself and remembering that I am simply having a human experience, the first two components in the Self-Compassion model, help me in times of trouble. But mindfulness is something that is available all the time and adds to any experience I am having. It’s amazing that we humans don’t spend more time being mindful but somehow we strayed and got caught up in our thoughts. The worst part is that we believe those thoughts to be real – THIS IS REALITY. ABSOLUTELY.
But it’s not. Our thoughts can confine us and imprison us so well and do great damage to everyone. However, when we are mindful it’s as if we are stepping back a little and looking at things from a bit of an outside perspective. It’s the opposite of taking things for granted.
A great way to practice mindfulness is in the shower. We are using a lot of our senses then. We can
- Listen to the water hitting the tiles and the tub and our skin;
- Smell the soap and the shampoo and feel the extra oxygen in the air;
- Feel the water on our skin, the temperature of the water (I love it hot, hot, hot), the sensation of water hitting our skin
- Look at our body and see – hey this is me. all me. no one else
I practice mindfulness whenever I walk down the street. Sometimes I focus on my feet meeting the pavement or even the tiredness I feel on my soles, or I focus on my breath, or on sounds around me. That is one of my favourites. Listening to a car go by, the sound of a lawn mower a block away, children playing, birds. At those moments nothing is being taken for granted. I am able to appreciate and feel grateful for these sounds of life.
There’s a very important thing to remember about mindfulness or we will put ourselves in a lot of pain. We need to be as nonjudgmental of our experiences as possible. Whatever we are feeling or thinking, whatever is happening needs a voice that says “It is what it is. This is what is happening right now and that’s all. There’s no good or bad, right or wrong to it. It simply is.”
Definitions of mindfulness
“the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment-by-moment” Jon Kabat-Zinn, very well-known mindfulness teacher
“awareness of present experience with acceptance” Ronald Siegel, mindfulness teacher
“Mindfulness is knowing what is happening while it is happening no matter what it is” Rob Nairn