Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis, as Merriam-Webster Dictionary described. Mindfulness is a basic and natural human ability that can be lost in the busy and noisy world we live in. As we practice mindfulness, the ability to be mindful comes more readily; but can you be mindful all the time, and is it too much?
You can’t be mindful all the time. Though not impossible, it’s likely that only enlightened people, like gurus and swamis, have this ability. Living in the culture of the world today, cultivating a healthy mindfulness practice is possible, but your mind will continue to swing into the past and future.
In this article, we will discuss how mindfulness practices and abilities evolve, considering the mindful ways of children. We will also look at how it looks for an enlightened person and whether there is such a thing as too much mindfulness. Finally, we will explore ways to be more mindful daily while still balancing the demands of the normal world.
What Is Mindfulness?
Considering the definition of mindfulness, a state of heightened awareness of thoughts, emotions, and experiences from a place of non-judgment might help consider a child’s mental state. Humans are innate, mindful beings, and this is perhaps most evident in babies and young children.
Babies naturally come from a place of non-judgment and welcome experiences, body sensations and cues, and emotions for what they are. They do not need to pay attention to anything other than their own experiences and the thoughts and emotions that come with these. And babies are quick to honor their thoughts and feelings, usually quickly expressing what they need with a cry or other cue.
As babies grow to young children, they remain in a very mindful state, but it starts to be interrupted a bit. For example, toddlers may experience intense emotion and act out in an unacceptable way. One of the most important principles of mindfulness is to accept, not change. Clearly, mindfulness begins to be interrupted in young children as behaviors and emotions are encouraged to change or be ignored.
Some examples of interrupting children’s mindfulness are things like telling them to stop crying or not allowing them to eat when they express they are hungry if it is not meal time. This teaches children things at a young age, like judging their emotions as good and bad and not welcoming or honoring certain bodily experiences and sensations.
Unless a parent or teacher teaches a child mindfulness, they likely lose their constant mindful state very quickly until they are old enough to start practicing mindfulness again. Luckily, there is more and more of an emphasis on the importance of mindfulness, so hopefully, children will be able to be in touch with their mindful selves more consistently through their childhood.
However, considering babies, perhaps this does answer that it is humanly possible to be mindful all of the time. But it is likely more helpful to think of ways mindfulness can be more achievable and attainable as we grow.
Gurus and Mindfulness
Guru simply means one who brings more joy, more alertness, and more awareness into your life. Guru encourages you to be in touch with yourself.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
A guru is a spiritual guide. The meaning of the word is “weighty one.” Gurus are known to bear the weight of deep wisdom and knowledge. The term is given to people with great spiritual insight.
Swami, maharishi, and yogis are all different types of spiritual gurus. They are masters of Hindu philosophy who strive for mastery over their “smaller selves” and behavior patterns. This sort of control is normally achieved through deep states of mindfulness and meditation.
Gurus’ callings are these types of mindfulness practices. They can dedicate their life to mindfulness, giving them the ability to be always mindful if they desire. This, however, does not mean that they all are. For gurus, this sort of mindfulness is not too much because it is such an intentional act. However, being in this true mindful state constantly likely would be too much for people with other callings, careers, and responsibilities.
Let’s discuss a bit about what an achievable, healthy mindfulness practice might look like in today’s busy world.
Below are a few mindfulness principles and understanding to inspire your mindfulness practice. Remember, the non-judgment that goes along with mindfulness is so important, and your practice is unique. There is not a right or wrong way to be mindful as it is such a personal experience.
It is also important to note; mindfulness is something you are, not something you do. Although you can set time out of your day to meditate or do yoga to help you be more intentionally mindful, mindful is a natural ability within you. Remember, humans are innately mindful.
Pay Attention to Your Breath
Every breath you take is an invitation to be mindful. Without judgment, consider how you are breathing. Are you taking deep breaths, or are your breaths shadow or flat? When you turn to pay attention to your breath, does the pattern change? When you feel a strong, intense emotion, whether joy or anger, how are you breathing? As you tune into your breath, can you steady it a bit, allowing yourself to feel more centered and present?
Connecting with your breath is a great tool to use in order to recenter, be present, and relax your mind and body. It is a great, simple way to cultivate and recognize your mindful self.
Focus on Your Posture
Having a more upright posture allows you more opportunities to be mindful. As you walk and stand, set your shoulders back and eyes forward or slightly up. When you do this, notice what is around you. Allow yourself to be present in your environment, taking in all there is to see.
As you are mindful, you will be aware of the experiences of all five of your senses. Without a strong, upright posture, it is much more difficult to be connected and engaged with the environment you are in, interrupting the ability to be mindful.
Understand Thoughts and Emotions
Humans experience a full spectrum of emotions. It is normal to be constantly fluctuating from feelings of joy to fear to calm to anxious. As you are mindful, you will acknowledge and accept these emotions as they come, judging them as neither good nor bad.
The power of this sort of mindful acknowledgment is that it gives you control and understanding before reacting to the emotion. By acknowledging the intense emotion from a place of mindfulness, you will be better able to accept the emotion and sit with it instead of acting out to diffuse, suppress, or ignore it.
This process of sitting with emotions also allows you to disconnect from them. Emotions are simply a result of what is happening in the environment around you, not something defining you. This understanding will break negative behavior patterns and respond to emotions in a healthy, constructive way.
Unless you are a spiritual Guru, dedicated to a life of meditation, mindfulness, and helping people, it is unlikely you will be able to be mindful all the time in today’s busy and ever-evolving. However, we can do things to be able to feel mindful more often throughout our day today. When practicing mindfulness, you can’t do it right or wrong, too much or too little. Allow yourself the freedom and joy that comes with acknowledging and accepting the world around you and honor the emotions and experiences it brings.