Rethinking Mindfulness

What is mindfulness? It’s just the state of being present. Being conscious. Having awareness of yourself as you are in the moment—aware of what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling, and what you’re doing. Mindfulness can be easily misunderstood—we often think mindfulness requires us to take a time out in order to reclaim a happy state. Practicing mindfulness is also regularly interchanged with practicing meditation, but instead mediation is a vehicle to achieving mindfulness. We mustn’t change our environment to enter into mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is actually easily accessible and integrative. You can achieve mindfulness if you recognize its requirement to actively pursue it—a continual challenge to accept yourself in totality, moment to moment. Letting go of what happened in the past, and not harping on the future. Refocusing and de-stressing are by products of mindfulness, but its overarching goals are to simply be in tune with your body, and to be okay with your body. Knowing there’s a paradoxical notion of mindfulness, that it's simple to practice yet complexly profound, what would it look like for us to switch the term “mindfulness” to “acceptance?” All of the sudden, mindfulness is more approachable and less daunting to begin. Despite the world’s stimuli all around, in any given moment you can choose to accept yourself…you can choose to be mindful of who you are.

As with wellness in general, your practicing mindfulness comes and goes—you have both good and bad days with self acceptance. But let those bad days not deflate you, offer yourself grace instead. As you’re juggling familial responsibilities and your sanity, being present with yourself is so tough. It may have been an opportune time to try out being mindful, but you missed it. You think, "It’s just too hard to think about anything other than chaos in those moments.” Mama, stop right there. You didn’t miss it. There’s going to be a next time. That’s grace, an equally important component in practicing mindfulness.

You may wonder how can you be a witness to your little(s)? How can you show mindfulness to them if it doesn’t come naturally to you? Despite this, we can still encourage and model mindfulness. We’re not perfect, after all. As mood disorders like anxiety and depression are being diagnosed younger and in higher frequency, it’s frightening to consider our littles are in jeopardy if we don’t equip them early on with self-care tools like mindfulness. Rather than giving fear power, let’s start here: The most helpful self-care tool you can offer your little(s) is yourself, mama, whether you’re practicing mindfulness or not. Nothing outshines your unconditional love. But if wanting to help them in mindfulness, first invite them—regardless their age--into your mindfulness via open conversation—communicate your condition with your little(s). Teach mindfulness by empowering them to be curious learners of themselves. What helps you accept yourself? How do you check in with yourself? It’s not too different for your little(s). Even a toddler can express themselves if you give them the space to do so. And then teach them—as you teach yourself—grace. When your little(s) see self acceptance as a journey, like you, they’ll more freely go after it. Shepherd them on the same path you’re walking. 

Mindfulness is merely practicing acceptance and grace. How about you try practicing mindfulness right now?