The concept of mindfulness is popular in today’s society, however, it is not new. In fact, scholars have traced the origins of mindfulness back to ancient Buddhist practices. Yet, the idea of mindfulness is not solely defined by Buddhism, and there are many secular interpretations.
When the tangents are stripped away, mindfulness can be described as a focused awareness in the present moment. Said another way, mindfulness is the recognition of the present time and space, not the past and not the future. Let us explore the misconceptions about mindfulness.
Navigating the Mindfulness Paradox
The idea of mindfulness is very simple. Yet, the practice of mindfulness can be challenging in today’s busy world of technology, constant activity, and non-stop stimulation. Many people think that in order to keep up with the constant stream of consciousness – what is woven into the onslaught of activity – they must always be on the move mentally, physically, and emotionally.
However, this state of overdrive can create incremental stress and inability to focus. Then, when one tries to slow down, the perceived pressure to keep up seeps into your awareness. The pressure competes with the goal of trying to focus on the moment. This wreaks havoc on one’s mind. And, many people give up trying because it’s “easier” to connect with the madness of constant activity. This is the Mindfulness Paradox.
The Hamster Wheel of Humanity
The habits of the western world focus on achieving what people want. This paradigm certainly serves competition like team athletics, but at its core, it is flawed as an ongoing mindset. The multitude of missed opportunities and overlooked insights are astounding when people fly through life at warp speed. It becomes survival of the fittest, but the “fittest” doesn’t always win the race because speed is not the ultimate barometer.
In racing towards your goals, people tend to only skim the surface of life. Skimming the surface will glean gifts but none that will fuel deep, ongoing growth. Skimming the surface will eclipse evolving to a higher point in personal growth. Skimming the surface often misses the deeper path that can ultimately change your life’s trajectory.
Today’s culture often values doing the most tasks, at the quickest rates. This approach completely misses deep embodiment and lasting evolution with detriments to one’s health. Pressure, stress, anxiety, shame, and fear are often the driving motivators to achieve the prize on the hamster wheel. These motivators are taskmasters who ultimately rob people of their self-esteem, peace of mind, and wellbeing. These motivators are external pressure cookers that people buy into.
But, what would happen if society chose to take the road less traveled? Slowing down, digging deep, and embodying the beauty and lessons learned while on the journey…this is the path. This is the path to harnessing a body of calm energy that generates from within and fuels us for the long haul. This is the path to Mindfulness.
Getting Off The Hamster Wheel
The hamster wheel is maddening, yet we enter into it willingly even if it will not take us anywhere. Round and round we go in a stressful state; we end up exhausted, ready to exit the hamster wheel, only to discover that we are actually in the same spot we started. We may have raced to our objectives and attained an element of “success” along the way. But is this quality, efficient living? Is this the best approach for humanity?
Is there a better way? YES! There are many alternate paths that will not sacrifice health,
wellness, sanity, relationships, and love. Paths that will enhance our lives and bring an abundance of quality, harmony, and opportunity. In order to stop the hamster wheel, one must first be aware you are on the wheel. This, in and of itself, is the first step to Mindfulness.
Once we are aware that we are running in circles, we can determine where we are on the hamster wheel and stop it. Then, we next need a destination once we exit. Where and how does one do this? We do not want to embody the path of the magnificent songbird, the one who believes she is trapped in her birdcage forever. Once the door to the birdcage is opened, she has no idea where to go, so she remains paralyzed in confusion and uncertainty.
We must put our foot on the path of consciousness and growth; we must be willing to go deep within ourselves for the answers. This is how we find our next steps. This is the second step in the path to Mindfulness.
Making Mindful Choices
We have a choice to make – where to go next on our path. While we only have one chance at making this moment and this choice our best, we can always course correct if we choose a less than fulfilling path. While it’s clear that re-entering the hamster wheel is not a good choice, we can choose to shift our mindset.
We can choose another course where we slow down, adjust our expectations, set our goals, and prioritize what is important in our lives. Implementing new practices in one’s life will greatly aid in upgrading your quality of life. When we take time to focus on the present moment – and cultivate a sense of gratitude for this time and space – then we can harness renewed, calm energy to help choose a new path of depth and growth.
Choosing to be mindful and embracing healthy regimens like exercise, nutrition, yoga and mindful meditation will amplify your life. These practices will propel you toward achieving your goals. Mindfulness is the doorway to living a better, healthier, and more fulfilling life.