I just meditated to some healing music, practising mindfulness where I try not to let thoughts run away with me and instead I said to myself ‘listen to your heart’. I noticed straight away that my chest was tight and I could feel pain in my heart. Tears started to come to my eyelids as I let the feelings wash over me. I continued to breathe in and out slowly and deeply from my abdomen whilst maintaining focus on my heart. I said to myself ‘I am listening this time, I am really listening’. I decided not to try and force the pain away, swallowing my feelings and telling myself off for having this strange pain. Instead I went with it. I was not afraid of the pain and I listened, letting it be as it wanted to be whilst maintaining my breathing. Oddly the pain started to dissipate and a feeling of relief came with it. I started to smile as I realised I was actually truly listening to myself. I was listening to my feelings deep down in my core rather than ignoring them or forcing them away. Mindfulness is a truly powerful thing. I know the more often I do this the better. As Marta Kagan says “listen to your heart above all other voices”.
When I am asked what mindfulness is sometimes I feel there isn't enough time to truly explain how life changing it can be. I think a good way of explaining it is that you capture the ‘holiday feeling’ more often which has got to be a good thing! It’s that moment when you feel your shoulders drop and you let out an unexpected, contented sigh just enjoying life as it is in the present. In a nutshell, you fully LET GO.
When we practice mindfulness we’re not striving to be elsewhere or wanting more stuff or desperate to change our situation. We accept where we are right now. We do the same thing when we’re on holiday. We eat mindfully savouring the taste, we walk mindfully enjoying the walk, we swim mindfully loving the sense of freedom in the sea.
We also let go of time stress. We spend so much of our day limited by time without even realising it. When we’re on holiday we can forget what time it is just like when we’re practising mindfulness.
There are other types of stresses that would normally limit us that we let go of on holiday and in the mindfulness practice – people stress (relationships that cause friction), world stress (less focus on the news on holiday and in the practice of mindfulness), role stress (work is left behind) etc.
We let go of all of this on holiday and in the same token, during the brief stillness and peace of mindfulness we do the same thing. So the next time someone asks me ‘what all this mindfulness stuff is about’ I will use the analogy of achieving that holiday feeling every now and then to start to explain the life changing wonder that is mindfulness.