What is mindfulness?

23 Mar, 2017

Now, more than ever, we all need a little time out. At Dragonfly, we have always believed in ‘Slow Tea’ - the idea of slowing down, quietening our thoughts and making the most of what’s in our cup. To help all of us find a bit of quiet we asked expert Dr Barbara Mariposa to take us through the basics of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

The practice of mindfulness seems very much of our time, and yet it is based on the ancient meditation traditions of Zen and Daoism. In practical terms, it means intentionally noticing and experiencing what is going on within you and around moment by moment, as it is happening, now. It means being fully present in your life.

We all know what this feels like because there are many occasions when it happens spontaneously: when we play music or sport, watch the sun set, or savour a mouthful of delicious food. As young children we lived in that state of ‘now’ all the time.

Mindfulness and living in the state of now

But living in the present is not always so easy. We find ourselves feeling distracted and anxious, worried about the future or trapped in the past, slightly disconnected from ourselves, from a sense of inner wisdom. By bringing acceptance and kindness to these moments, we can let our thoughts and feelings be and not get caught up in them.

The challenge is to become more self-aware, more emotionally balanced, to cultivate stillness and trust. We can learn that we are the authors of our script, and need not be pulled every which way by a constant cacophony of thoughts and emotions. “Let the thoughts be, and they will let you be,” someone said.


Mindfulness and tea

 

It's not about having an empty mind but having a clear mind, where the mud has settled at the bottom of the pond, allowing us to perceive events with greater clarity.
By taking ten minutes every day to sit quietly and focus our attention on our breathing, subtle but important changes can start to take place. Our attention wanders. We notice and gently guide the focus back to an awareness of our breath.
With regular practice, our brains actually alter in function and shape. Parts responsible for wellbeing, self-awareness and empathy expand. Parts relating to stress, anxiety and tension, all of which negatively skew the way we see what’s around us, lose their dominance.
 

The formal practice of “sitting” or meditating is a very effective way to strengthen the mental muscles of self-awareness. But really any moment when we turn our attention fully to what we are doing - whether brushing our teeth or drinking a cup of tea - we are cultivating “presence”.

My motto for this is D.W.D.W.D. “Do What you’re Doing When you’re Doing it”. When we awaken our senses to what we are experiencing, our mental wellbeing improves and our lives can become rich beyond measure.

Read some more on mindfulness:

How to press pause with a little 'tea mindfulness'

What is the connection between mindfulness and tea

 

 

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