One of the fundamental concepts of mindfulness is awareness. Awareness is the opposite of denial. It means to become "conscious".It is being cognizant of the things we
normally think and do on “autopilot”. In being more aware of our thoughts and habits, we can start to change those aspects of our life.
This makes sense because in order to change something, you must first be aware of it.
The first step in practicing awareness is experiencing your situation with all your senses. The key is just to acknowledge these thoughts
and feelings without judging, analyzing, or acting on them. Think of your thoughts as passing by on a cloud. No need to brainstorm a solution
to anticipated problems or re-live past conversations. If you think about it, most anxiety and stress comes from things that happened in the
past or things we are anxious about in the future. By focusing on the here and now, you are eliminating a large source of negative thoughts
Our Internal Environment
Look at your internal environment. How do you feel? Maybe you are feeling anxious or excited. Are you feeling sleepy? The key is to not
think about something that happened yesterday or in the past. It also means not worrying about the future. Focus on experiencing the present
moment with all your senses.
The External Environment
Next, look at your external environment. Think in terms of details. Are you feeling hot or cold? What do you hear? Are you with anyone?
What colors do you see? If you begin to think about past or future thoughts, that’s alright. Simply refocus your attention to the present
moment. This will become easier and easier as you practice more.
With cultivation of awareness, simply observing what is...in this moment, we begin to take back our mind space.
Remember, awareness requires stillness and effort. It often requires taking a step back and seeing something for what it is. Take for example when you are
experiencing pain in the body. Sit back and observe that you are not the pain, rather, the you are feeling pain, you are observing the pain.
You may find yourself thinking, "I am not my pain, I have a pain".
Try to set aside time each day to practice awareness. You can even do this at work. While you're eating lunch, think about how the food tastes. What smells are present?
Are you feeling tired? Do you hear a coworker talking? Is the room hot or cold? As you practice awarenes, it will become more and more natural and will require less
effort. But, like all good things, it takes some practice first in order to train the brain.
Mindfulness Vs. Meditation: What's the difference?
We will talk about both mindfulness and meditation throughout this newsletter. It's important to understand the basic differences between these two practices.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in each moment.
Mindfulness is something that you purposefully strive for throughout your day, in any given moment. On the other hand, meditation is a specific act
that you schedule into your day. For example, you may choose set aside 10 minutes each morning and each evening to meditate. Mediation allows time
to clear your mind and refocus your energy.