Mindfulness is a buzz word lately; current research shows that it is an effective treatment for chronic pain and in my work as a mental health counselor, there are quite a few new evidence based therapies that have their roots in the concept of mindfulness. Clients know to ask to work with someone who "incorporates mindfulness" into their practice. But so often, these same clients ask, "what exactly is mindfulness?"
I am able to most easily understand mindfulness by narrowing it down to its three basic components; being present, aware, and non-judgmental. Acknowledging, and naming in a kind way, simply "what is". It is the idea that when we attune to the present moment, we can find peace in the now; letting longing or sadness about the past and anxiety and stress about the future slip away. Often, mindfulness techniques are taught through body awareness and breath work, as being present to the sensations of the body is one of the most accessible ways of being mindful. Yoga is a mindfulness practice; being present to the body, aware of the breath, and non-judgmental about the asanas, the mind chatter, the instructor's voice...
easier said than done, right?
A friend of mine recently did an experiment he called, "30 days of mindfulness". The experiment entailed finding a book, quote, or image on a daily basis that for him invoked the spirit of mindfulness and he 'journaled' this experiment via Facebook. He was amazed to find that his experiment not only had profound effects him, but also on those around him. In talking with him about his experiment, I thought about my own practice of mindfulness; and those sacred moments where I find myself present, aware and non-judgmental. Those moments that can feel so rare in the daily grind, but I savor in my yoga practice. Admittedly, I struggle the most with the concept of being non-judgmental. If I were only able to let go of my prevalent self-criticism throughout my day...well, that just sounds downright heavenly.
What have you noticed about your own yoga practice? Which component of mindfulness is your area for growth? Grab your mat, come into the studio, and do your own experiment; practice being present, aware, and non-judgmental. See how this not only affects your asanas, but endeavor to take these qualities out of the studio, and see how it may have a profound effect on your daily life.
Special shout outs go to our students who have recently completed their 30 Day Challenges:
Chris Van Oijen
60 Day Challenge:
WAY TO GO!