After having taken an 8-week course in mindfulness-based stress reduction, I still haven’t quite figured out what exactly mindfulness is supposed to be.
I do have a vague idea, though, that I find rather sympathetic.
For my amateur understanding, mindfulness is about being (and staying) in the moment, here and now. Paying close attention to what’s going on with myself right in this moment: physically, emotionally or with respect to my thoughts.
But without judging what’s going on inside of me, without trying to change anything (for the moment), just observing.
So being mindful in my everyday life might help me to experience things more deeply, to really experience the moment and not get distracted by endless thoughts or worries about the future or the past or more or less “imaginary” problems. Mindfulness gives me the opportunity to take a step back in stressful situations in order not to become overwhelmed by my “normal” feelings and reactions.
The disadvantage: Mindfulness requires practice. A lot of practice.
During the 8-week course we were supposed to do a formal practice (meditation or mindful yoga) every day for about 45 minutes and we were encouraged to apply mindfulness to everyday activities (eating, housework, whatever).
One hour (or 45 minutes) every day is a lot of time – at least for me. For those 8 weeks I managed to make time for this almost everyday, but this meant not having time for other things that I also like doing. For example I did not find any time to read a book during those weeks.
When the course was over, I started reading again and doing other stuff – thus having less time for mindful practices.
Mindfulness does not work miracles – at least it did not for me.
I had sort of hoped that it might help make me sleep better – but I guess that would have been too much to ask for.
But I do have the feeling that I don’t get quite as overwhelmed anymore in stressful situations (at least if the situation is not too extreme).
So it was worth a try. And it continues to be worth trying. I haven’t completely given up practicing mindfulness. Right now I just don’t know how much time I can make for this and want to make for this.