Mindfulness is nothing more than a way to describe being fully present. Get out of your head. Still the inner voice that frets, regrets, plans, and criticizes. We are more than our thoughts and feelings, which are merely tools for us to use when it’s advantageous to do so. When you choose to live in this moment, you can put these in the toolbox for now. They’ll be at your fingertips, usually not even waiting to be picked up before they start operating.
As a person who spent decades believing I was my thoughts and intellect, the perspective that I could choose to set my hamster-wheel thinking aside was anathema. I didn’t know what I was beyond my ideas and education. Throw in emotions as well, which seemed like side-effects of life events and no more in my control than those circumstances.
The new equation looked like thoughts + feelings + X = me. What was that missing component? Turns out I could only find out by experiencing it. I read the book, “The power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, which was so valuable for moving me out of my head. It even provides exercises to strengthen the ability to turn off the noise. I don’t feel like I’m good at mindfulness but I had it a while ago. When I’m practicing it regularly, it definitely decreases my anxiety. Likewise, when I forget about it, that inner voice gets fired up and takes off.
The sensation of mindfulness is commonly visited upon us in a crisis. You receive jarring news, outside the realm of usual or routine. You know, the late night/early morning call from anyone, because no one should be phoning at that hour and it cannot be good. Perhaps you’re in a car accident or a near miss. Suddenly, your attention and all your senses snap into immediate focus. Time moves slowly or not at all. Later, the memory is sealed with the smells, colors, and surroundings.
Fortunately, we don’t need upheaval or ruination to engage this version of ourselves. It’s helpful for me to breathe deeply using my diaphragm, feeling how my ribcage and chest respond. Checking in with my environment using each of the five senses helps draw me to the present. When the voice inside starts mulling and judging, I gently move the thinking aside and continue observing, touching, etc.
We are more than the sum of our parts. Our thoughts and emotions inform our energy, activities, creativity, preferences, etc. and our “self” is a synergy of these dynamics.