One of the major tenets of my treatment is called mindfulness; but what is mindfulness? There are many different definitions of this word, but I rest on “being intentionally aware of your thoughts about yourself, others, and the world around you.”
The combination of words I use to define mindfulness is especially important.
- intentionally aware – mindfulness is purposefully and deliberately paying attention
- thoughts – mindfulness about thoughts includes knowing that they’re just thoughts, and they aren’t facts; being aware of the things you’re thinking can change your entire mindset
- yourself / others / world around you – mindfulness isn’t only about being aware of your thoughts about yourself, but also how you think about others in your life, and how you think about the world around you
Mindfulness is not a new healing technique; it’s been used since 1500 BCE in Hinduism (with yoga in mind), it’s been used with Daoism since the sixth century BCE (the qì gong practice), and an integral part of Buddhism since at least 535 BCE (using breath focus). (“Brief History of Mindfulness,” 2011).
Mindfulness is a personal experience and no one practices it in the same exact way. The goal, however, often remains similar between practitioners: slow down your thoughts, reduce judgement on those thoughts. When a person practices mindfulness, he or she often notices that the “inner critic” is quieter, more kind, and less judgemental. Slowing the thought process is imperative for those living with depression and anxiety: molehill thoughts easily snowball into Mount Everest without mindfulness.
I utilize a couple of great resources for my own mindfulness practice; the Happify app, and a little green notebook from my doctors with 60+ pages of tips, techniques, explanations, suggestions, and ideas to help me raise awareness of my thoughts. I recommend the Happify app if you’re interested in any sort of mood-elevating techniques. My little green notebook might not be in your possession, but my blog is now; you can count on posts from me including these mindfulness tips, tricks, and encouragement.
Swing by tomorrow; now that you know what mindfulness is, I can teach you how to be more mindful in your everyday life.