Photo credit: Tim Green
Beware = To be aware
Being aware of this moment. Right now. My breathing. How I am sitting. On what. The smell of the air. The tulips next to me. Their color.
Everything that connects me with the here and now. Accepting of what I think and feel. Focusing on my surroundings, on what is going on inside and outside of me.
Being. Be-ing. To actively “be.” In the here and now. Using my senses. What do I see, smell, hear, touch, think, right at this moment. And the next moment. And the next. And the next.
Roots and meaning of mindfulness
What is called mindfulness today is not a new phenomenon.
The early fathers of the Eastern Christian Church talked about “nepsis” which means “vigilance and watchfulness of the mind and heart.”
Mindfulness as such, is the seventh step of the noble eightfold path in Buddhism.
However, mindfulness is not inherent religious and is often taught independent of its religious or cultural background.
Mindfulness, according to Wikipedia, refers to a psychological quality that involves:
- bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis
- paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment
- a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is
What’s that got to do with me?
Wouldn’t you like to know… hehehe!
In 1979 Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts to treat the chronically ill. It all spun off from there. Mindfulness has become very popular in last couple of decades and made its way into various types of therapy.
Now onto the real stuff:
For us bipolars, learning to be in the here and now is a very important exercise. When emotions overwhelm us and we can lead ourselves back to what is happening right now, it helps calm down the earthquake within. When we are down and practically unaware of what is going on, focusing on the here and now helps us to take one step further out of the pit. When our thoughts are racing so fast our mouth can’t keep up, it’s good to know how to shut it and get out of the race by actively being in the moment.
Just to name a few examples.
This is all the practice of mindfulness. It takes time to learn. Practice indeed!
Why is it important?
Numbers refer to the above mentioned list.
- It takes us out of our bipolar moment into the ‘outside’ world. (1)
- Being aware of the outside world, focused on our surroundings, it helps to ground us. (1)
- Being grounded helps us to gain stability. (1)
- Having stability, we can start the process of understanding what is actually going on inside of us. (2)
- Knowing what is going on inside of us helps us to take proper action. (2) (3)
- Taking proper action gives us control instead of being controlled.
- Having control makes us feel better.
- It also makes those around us feel better.
What I like so much about mindfulness is the emphasis on being nonjudgmental ~ everything we feel, think or sense is acknowledged, allowing it to exist. It is the acceptance of what is. To let it be.
Often times I am plagued more by my own attitude towards myself (judgmental, rejective, stuffing all sensations and feelings down) than what others might or might not do or think! Ever have this feeling you are your own worst enemy? Yup, me too.
Becoming mindful leads me to the opposite, the good stuff. Yay for mindfulness!
Do you have any experience with practicing mindfulness?
Please let me know in the comments below or through the ‘Contact me’ form which you find at the top of the header. Thank you!
Further reading suggestion:
Using Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder by Shamash Alidina ~ Bipolar Beat