By Nadine Saad
True mindfulness is not just about feeling calmer and more relaxed. It’s about cultivating the conscious awareness and presence for navigating the ups and downs of life’s everyday experiences.
It was only a few years ago that I wrongfully assumed mindfulness was a trendy wellness movement that only started fairly recently. A lot of what's taught as mindfulness today is often lite adaptations of its core teachings, and I didn't appreciate the depth of its practical yet transformational wisdom until I started studying ancient Eastern philosophies and meditation practices.
To go back to its roots, mindfulness was taught by the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, some 2,500 years ago. These teachings were grounded in understanding how the mind works, giving us tools to develop our self-awareness, foster inner peace and heal dis-ease. Its approach is widely recognised for its psychological theory and application.
Of course, there's plenty of research to back up its benefits to emotional, mental and physical health - from improving sleep and concentration to reducing anxiety and stress. I could bore you with all the facts and figures, but a person's lived experience helps paint a picture that research can't quite convey.
And that's what I'm sharing here.
Improving focus and clarity
By teaching me how to observe my thoughts without judgement or attachment, mindfulness has given me the tools to declutter my mind and tune out the noise. It's helped me turn down the volume of fear and lean into my intuition more clearly and intentionally.
But what I've found most helpful here is learning how to anchor my thinking and focus into the present moment. Our minds can spend way too much time stressing about the future, ruminating on the past, focusing on other people's lives, and preoccupied with situations that are out of our control.
Developing the ability to keep my awareness in the here-and-now as much as possible has boosted my clarity, peace of mind and the intentionality of my focus. It's much easier for me to centre myself and get grounded whenever I get distracted or feel any overwhelm or stress coming on.
Restoring emotional wellbeing
Before I learned to process them mindfully, I used to "manage" my emotions by bottling them up until boiling point. But mindfulness helped me learn how to acknowledge and feel them, without letting them drive my actions.
Emotions are a natural and vital part of the human experience. They often bring clarity in situations, communicate intuitive guidance, and can help us to see what we're dealing with at a subconscious level. Getting into the practice of being present to our emotions is a key stepping stone to emotional healing.
Allowing myself to feel my most uncomfortable emotions has actually enabled me to understand and accept myself so much more deeply. It's helped me come to terms with, and heal, pain I once thought I'd never want to revisit. It's helped me to get to the root of unhealthy patterns and behaviours more clearly - and take responsibility for doing the inner work to change.
I can genuinely say that I have an inner peace that I haven't experienced before. And whenever that boat gets rocked, I know how to find my own inner anchor.
Boosting (and prioritising) my physical health
We've become so used to powering through life - racing from one goalpost to the next, that we can lose a vital connection and attunement to what our bodies are telling us. Especially in a world where burnout is too widely experienced, we need to practice paying much closer attention to what we're feeling physically.
In the past, I used to get so annoyed when I’d notice early signs of exhaustion, flu or any other ailment. I’d power through and try to fight it. That’s how I’d become conditioned to respond: put on a professional front and carry on until I absolutely needed to rest. But mindfulness has gotten me into the practice of acknowledging these physical cues early on and honouring the need to slow down and rest. Prioritising my self-care and setting better boundaries has become a non-negotiable.
This is just one result. Developing the habit of tuning in and listening mindfully has given me a lot more than this, like helping me to recognise, regulate and release stress and anxiety that was wired into my nervous system. It's also been instrumental in taking better care of my health and fitness, as I've shared here.
I'm not suggesting that my health and wellbeing are flawless; but my ability to care for them has transformed completely.
The best part is that these changes have been sustainable.
I'd love to help you experience the benefits of mindfulness too. If you'd like to find out more about how I can help you, get in touch with me to discuss.