the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.’ – Oxford Dictionary
I was sitting in one of my weekly appointments with the community eating disorder psychologist when I first heard the term mindfulness. She spoke of it as though it would be my cure all to end all, a magical potion that wasn’t in the form of a pill but instead would require me to attend each appointment, each week and listen to her as she spoke about my thoughts, my feelings and what I have been doing wrong; what was making me ill. Of course this lead to me hating the idea, even the word, there was no way mindfulness would ever help me. To cut a very long and up and down story short, I was right, it didn’t help me, not with that approach and my mind set anyway.
As my journey went on mindfulness came in and out at various moments. I remember being in a weekly ‘anxiety management’ group session, the word mindfulness coming up again, myself, still in disbelieve it could ever be helpful. This time the mindfulness was brought up at the end of the session- after we had openly spoke about our anxieties and talked about positive thoughts. The mindfulness part of the session involving listening to a CD, birds tweeting, water running and a voice over body scan (a voice going through each part of the body, focusing on feelings, being aware of each body part and sensation)- not ideal for someone who at the time had an awful lot of psychological thoughts about their body. I remember leaving feeling very uncomfortable, the session reinforcing my already negative beliefs of mindfulness. Where was the calmness and the magical potion?
I then went through a course of cognitive behavioural therapy with a different psychologist, I can not put into words how much this helped- nor how grateful I am. Soon after I left treatment and began to get on with my life, still on a journey, still recovering. My appointments became once every four weeks and before I knew it mindfulness was making an appearance again, this time speaking about what it meant, what it was and how it could help with the way I saw myself- learning to accept me and all that I was, all that I am. I slowly became to enjoy learning about it. I began to read about it, I downloaded an app and I started to meditate, focusing on my breathing and brining myself to the present moment. I stuck to this for a while, until my life became faster and I began to enjoy the feeling of living both high and low- I enjoyed feeling, after so long of being ‘numb’.
The highs and lows became more frequent, the lows leading me to memories of being ill. I accepted the lows would be apart of my life after all, I had been through a truly horrible time. A smell, a song and even a couple of words would take me back to that time- a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, my mind filled with memories, fears and anxieties. They didn’t happen everyday and I was able to manage them with distractions, still accepting they would be there forever.
As I moved on again, becoming healthier and happier, mindfulness made an appearance again. This time as apart of my studies, an opportunity to sit in on an eight-week mindfulness course, I didn’t know what to expect but I was very open-minded. I never thought I would see results in myself, only those who were on the course. The group leader spoke about mindfulness not as a magic potion but as something that required hard work and commitment. I learnt that “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally”- Jon Kabat-Zinn.
I have been a planner for as long as I can remember and although this has it’s good points I often find myself thinking about what I am doing later, tomorrow, next week and even next year. I often miss the present moment, the little things. This course has taught me to be aware of the now and how that can truly enrich my life. As for my lows and bad memories- they have disappeared. At first I didn’t not know how this had happened but now reflectively looking at it, I can see that now when I hear that song or smell that smell I accept it for what it is now- in the present moment- not what it was, nor what it reminds me of. I have made a decision to change my thought process, choosing to focus my awareness on the now, being aware and accepting of my current thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations- in a non-judgemental way, they are what they are.
I continue to learn and practice mindfulness and meditation each day, I also continue to see the benefits of making this choice; a conscious choice I make for myself. I hope mindfulness makes an appearance in your journey, be open-minded, work at it, be non-judgemental, accepting and patient. It has taken me over three years to get here but I could not be happier that I have got here. Each day my mind becomes more peaceful and I become more accepting.
Thank you for reading,
Calm, Mind on Mindfulness, Be Mindful