Living a life mindfully is like looking through a camera lens to appreciate the vibrant colours of the landscape or savouring the array of flavours while eating a delicious meal. It can feel like being immersed in an experience without distraction.
Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and actions in the present moment – without judging or criticizing yourself or your experience.
The beauty of mindfulness practice is that it is accessible and attainable to anyone who is interested to learn. My curiosity towards mindfulness began at the age of 20 when I first stepped into a yoga class. I loved the feeling of peacefulness that swept over me as I held my attention in alignment with my balance pose and my breath. It gave me respite from my monkey mind of chatter that was my constant companion.
Being still and silent was unfamiliar to me since I was a typical perfectionist and an extrovert – always searching for that next goal, ticking off my never-ending To-Do list and constantly seeking social companionship. During times of grief, anxiety and depression it was uncomfortable and confronting to stop and face the wave of emotions that crashed over me. It was often easier to keep busy and distract myself from what I was truly feeling, but at the end of the day I was exhausted, unhappy and disconnected from the world around me.
My curiosity in connecting with that sense of peace has remained with me during the past two decades and I have persisted with my mindfulness practice to train my mind to stay in the present moment. By doing this, I can free myself from the troubles of the past or the worries about the future. I connect with what I am experiencing and in the here and now. I am able to observe my thoughts and feelings with less judgement and more kindness. I have found a pathway to self love and self compassion which has enriched my life more deeply than I could have imagined.
By learning to be more present and kind with myself, I now have a greater capacity to be compassionate towards those around me. I’ve noticed I am better able to fully listen and respond to the emotional needs of my children. I am much more patient and loving with my husband. I can be more empathic towards a friend who is opening her heart to me in conversation. As human beings we are hard-wired for connection and I highly value spending meaningful time with others. What mindfulness has taught me is that the connection I have with myself is what has enriched my experience of connecting with the people and the world around me. So for me, there is definitely magic in mindfulness.
– Janet Whitfield
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