What Mindfulness is NOT

Updated: Jan 7


By now, many of us would have heard or read about the benefits of mindfulness and how this ancient practice has found its way to the western world like a storm - and for good reasons.


However, there are still misconceptions on what mindfulness is :- I find that it may help by demystifying mindfulness


Practising mindfulness is not about learning to relax

You might relax when you meditate but then you might not – this doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. We are not practising to achieve any particular mind state but merely noticing our experience whatever it may be.


Mindfulness is not a quick fix

It takes discipline and patience to practice mindfulness, giving it time to unlearn the patterns of a lifetime, so letting go of particular expectations, and trusting in the process is a helpful attitude to adopt.


Mindfulness is not the same as positive thinking

When we practice mindfulness, we are practising being with all states of mind –happy, frustrated, the good, the bad and the neutral.


Mindfulness is not a miracle cure

It won’t make our stress or pain go away, but if we meditate regularly, it will change the way we relate to the messy or unpleasant moments in life. Our typical reaction might be to avoid unpleasant feelings, however, by learning to stay present when we experience painful thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, we can learn to relate differently to them. We see the extra ‘stories’ we create about the pain or difficulty and learn to let them go thereby letting go of the additional suffering that is often generated by ourselves.


Mindfulness is not a religion

Although initially founded on Buddhist practices, no tradition has a monopoly on empathy and love and kindness. Educator Daniel Rechtschaffen sums it up this way: “Mindfulness does not belong to Christianity, Buddhism, or Taoism, just as the breath we inhale and exhale does not belong to any one of us.”


Practising mindfulness is not about learning to relax

You might relax when you meditate but then you might not – this doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. We are not practising to achieve any particular mind state but merely noticing our experience whatever it may be.


Mindfulness is not trying to empty our mind of conscious thought

Rather we are learning to see our thoughts as passing mental events and respond to them (on interpreting them) with kindness and compassion.


Mindfulness is not being irresponsible or being unaccountable of your actions

When we talk about ‘living in the moment’ we don’t mean living without any regard to the future and consequences. It simply means paying attention to our experience in the present moment. The past can’t be changed; the future will be influenced by what we do now. Therefore the present moment is the only moment where there is an opportunity to do something different.


Mindfulness is not just practicing yoga

Yoga is one of the formal practices of mindfulness however, yoga is often just an hour a day - what happens to the rest of the 23 hours a day?


Mindfulness is not only for meditators

We can meditate informally by intentionally paying attention to our experience as it unfolds without judging it. So next time you want to experience 'being in the moment'… avoid thinking about the future or the to-do’s’ or about something that has already happened. Allow yourself to simply be.

Learning mindfulness is not a linear process

Often we have to learn the same lessons over and over, and sometimes our attention feels very focused, but then at other times very distracted. Practising mindfulness is a life-long journey that provides endless opportunities for learning. Need reminding on the benefits of practising mindfulness? Check out this article: The Benefits of Mindfulness – How Could It Help You?  


Are you aware of other misconceptions about mindfulness?

Are there any unhelpful assumptions that you might have made about mindfulness?

How would you know that the assumptions you have made about mindfulness are accurate?


Most of us find it challenging enough to practice mindfulness consistently, and if we can remove all the barriers that keep us from experiencing mindfulness, we can start to reap the benefits to find calm, inner peace and eventually joy in our lives.


NOTE:



Mindfulness by the lake


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