The remedy? The ancient practice of mindfulness. For our monthly Inside Denver Twitter chat with Blake Communications, we interviewed five local experts. Here’s what we learned.
Like so many words out there, the definition, understanding, and usage of mindfulness varies. Our experts generally agreed that mindfulness means being in the present moment, but some took it a bit further. Juli Rathke, Founder/Publisher at YOGA + Life® Magazines, describes it as “a combination of presence, emotional intelligence, and resilience” whereas lifestyle consultant Amy Dalton says it’s “conscious choosing.”
Insight #1: Set down that cockamamie phone for once and be in the here and now.
Mindfulness is a practice. What’s great about the concept of practice, is that it’s regular and repeated and acknowledges that we might fail but that improvement will occur. Kïrsten Blakeof ChapterBE suggests “trying out different types of practices to see what works best.” Doug Miller says “focused breathing is probably the simplest” mindfulness practice but says bringing “attention to physical sensations” can also work such as sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Taylor Borman of Meditation Studio App says it could be as simple doing“one thing at a time.”
Insight #2: Mindfulness isn’t a one-and-done activity, nor is it a one-way ticket to brain utopia. It’s a way of life that takes practice.
The benefits of mindfulness could make an impact in virtually every area of our lives. It not only “feels really good,”as Miller says, but also can help with “stress management, anxiety, sleep disorders, and chronic pain,” according to Borman. Mindfulness, as Blake describes, allows us to make “choices from a space of emotional intelligence vs. reaction.” Rathke adds that it even “prevents burnout.”
Insight #3: Mindfulness unlocks the door to a calmer, clearer mind.
There are now more distractions and options for leisure, entertainment, and work than ever before. As Dalton says, “we are bombarded every day with a million things.” It’s easy to drop mindfulness in the wake of all these pressures. “It’s important to remember,” as Dalton says,“that mindfulness is a practice and some days will be better than others. And that’s okay.” Miller added, “It is hard to remember to be mindful.”
Insight #4: Try not to get sucked into the vortex. If it happens, tomorrow’s a new day to start again.
Mindfulness is becoming less woo-woo and more accepted, especially by corporate America. Borman says, “More workplaces are starting to value employee health and wellness.” Dalton says there’s an atmosphere of learning and experimenting. Rathke advises “the simpler, the better” when it comes to spreading meditation throughout society in order to “make it appealing to all.” Yet Blake cautions that “The original Buddhist intentions were to cultivate interconnectedness, social harmony, and compassion. So, we need to be careful not to make mindfulness only about the self.”
Insight #5: Most anyone can be mindful. Just don’t get too hung up on “the self.”
There are a ton of meditation apps out therein addition to hordes of experts, piles of books, a cornucopia of classes, and gobs of newsletters. Miller recommends the Insight Timer app while Blake loves Mark Neop’s The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by being Present to the Life You Have. Borman says, “Do what makes sense to you!”
Insight #6: Mindfulness is a choose-your-own-adventure. Be sure to pack well.