Mindfulness is about paying attention, to the present moment, and letting go of the natural tendency to judge our experiences as they show up. There are lots of different ways of describing it, and here are some we are fond of:
“falling awake” (John Kabat-Zinn)
practising having your mind and your body in the same place at the same time
the act of being yourself
the practice of being where you are
We are often walking around on ‘autopilot’ – stuck in our heads, mostly unaware of our surroundings, and getting pushed around by whatever our mind is chatting about. Our behaviour then, is under the control of this internal chatter, and this can take us in all sorts of directions, without us really noticing. When we come back to the present moment, we step out of this internal space, and can then make more conscious and deliberate choices about which direction we move our bodies in.
Being part of the ‘attention economy’ is putting even greater pressure on us, and drawing us away from the present moment. This is particularly evident for young people, who often feel compelled to check their status, ‘likes’ and followers. There is a growing body of evidence which shows that teaching mindfulness skills to young people, can have a huge impact on their ability to control their arousal and stress levels, as they navigate their lives.