Mindfulness: What Does it Mean to You?

I’m not sure there is another word that is thrown around more in recovery circles than MINDFULNESS. It has become almost a cliché and I think sometimes that people avoid this concept or learning to practice mindfulness simply because of the cliché factor. Mindfulness can mean many things to many people, but today I would like to share just how important this particular skill and yes, it is a skill, that can be very effective when dealing with the many troubles that accompany an illness like IBS. It is so important that we don’t get lost in our own minds worrying about the next step or what things might be like in the future or just how bad can this thing get? Learning mindfulness can be the most peaceful refuge from the neverending cycle of discomfort that IBS can sometimes become.

Fully present in the moment

I think we all know the basic concept behind mindfulness…BE HERE NOW, right? While the idea of being fully present in the moment, completely aware of everything that is going on around you, moment to moment, may seem daunting…it is absolutely possible and for me…absolutely necessary. I do believe that because we humans are all so different, that we may come to mindfulness in different ways. What do you become preoccupied with? What distracts you from what is in your ears and eyes in a given moment? Why are you not PRESENT? You may ask, why is it so imperative that I be PRESENT in a given moment? There are lots of reasons, but for me the most important is that I am not speculating about what happened before or what is going to happen next. I cannot change what happened before, I can only learn a lesson from situations. I cannot control what happens next. I can only pay attention to right now because at the moment…it is all we have :).

Let go and trust yourself

Practicing mindfulness is really no different than going to the gym to get your body as healthy as it can be. It is very difficult at first, attempting to think and look at the world in an entirely new way. Let’s be honest, most of us are stuck in our own heads thinking about something or other that may not be the least bit pertinent in this moment. While we are lost in thought, we miss out on messages that the universe might be trying to send us. We are missing an important conversation, we are missing a new friend or idea. We are missing life. I should mention that the other key benefit mindfulness holds for me is that it allows me to think more clearly about where I am, who I am and what is best for me at a given time. This is because I am not applying perceptions, concepts and beliefs that I may have had in the past. I am being who I am right now. If you have a good idea about who you are and a strong sense of identity, you don’t need to worry about what you learned before. It is all there. You just need to LET GO…and trust yourself.

I’m not asking that you run out and buy a bunch of incense and candles and start meditating for hours on end. This is not mindfulness. What we are attempting here is a rearranging of our thought process. We spend too much time up there in our own gourds… Wake up…BE HERE NOW ;).

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