What Mindfulness Is Not

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The practice of mindfulness is proven to help regulate mind, body and spirit. It’s prescribed for busy people to help them gain better control over their emotions, perspectives and stress levels.

The more external or internal stress you face, the more a mindfulness practice can be a catalyst to you dealing and working with your stress in positive ways. It can decrease burnout, overwhelm, anger and lead to greater insight, fulfillment and overall unswayed happiness.

Yet, I find that people mistake mindfulness for other meditative practices or don’t fully tap into its use.

It’s about being in the moment, and not somewhere else. To help illustrate what it is and how you can practice mindfulness for the benefits I listed above, here’s some of the common misconceptions of the practice.

Sometimes, I find learning more about what something is not can lead to a broader perception about what something is.

Not Necessarily Relaxing

Mindfulness is not meant to be relaxing, although it can be.

In a foundational mindfulness practice of doing a body scan, you focus on specific parts of your body. You are not trying to forget things, move things or alter the experience.

Thus, if you’re experiencing something uncomfortable – physically or mentally – the practice may not be relaxing. However, you experience deep insight and wisdom from this state.

Not Mind Escaping

“Be here now” is a mantra that mindfulness teachers use. It’s about focusing on the present moment and what is true for you now.

It’s not about mentally checking out. Mindfulness invites you to explore, not leave.

The beauty is that the less you mentally escape, the more peace you can experience regardless of the circumstance.

Not Always Sedentary

The stereotypical meditative posture is sitting on the mat, cushion, in a chair or lying down. We close our eyes and find stillness.

Mindfulness can embody that stillness, yet it’s alway can show up in full alertness and activity.

I argue that mindfully engaging in activities is highly beneficial to performance & fulfillment outcomes.

You can practice mindful walking & eating. You can bring the practice into conversations with mindful listening.

Traditional meditation that involves sitting, laying and stillness is great, yet mindfulness is so much broader than on a cushion.

Not An Immediate Fix

I wish it was. Mindfulness doesn’t immediately solve or fix issues or problems. Can it? Yes. Must you be patient with the practice? Absolutely.

In a mindfulness training I attended, a few of my fellow participants were looking for answers to some of their problems with frustration at work that spilled into their home and emotional & physical feelings of overwhelm.

After a couple weeks of doing exercises, not much changed for them. A couple more weeks went by and they noticed less & less unwanted experiences. By the end of the training the amount of “upset time” they experienced was slim and resonant levels of happiness increased.

Similar to the principles of compounding and exercise, it’s not about doing a lot in short bursts. That’s great of course. However, it’s about making mindfulness practices part of a healthy lifestyle so that the insights and wisdom of the practice can grow and compound. Thus, changes occur more naturally.

Now that you know more about what mindfulness is not, you can better explore what it is. Check back here for subsequent articles on what mindfulness IS. Together, we can create a more mentally & emotionally productive work and home life, where success and fulfillment both run rampant.

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