For most people like us who hover in the self improvement space, the idea of mindfulness is always coupled next to meditation. To truly understand the value each of these bring we will need to dig into the confusing distinction so we can reap the benefits of this powerful habit.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the growing awareness of one’s beliefs and experiences (thoughts, feelings, actions, ect.).
Meditation is the intentional act of pursuing a state of mindfulness.
Think of meditation as the way and form you run, mindfulness is the way you walk. In other words, you can develop and practice the state of mindfulness both by meditating and during everyday life.
Let me share a quick story discussing this distinction. A few weeks ago my partner and I were headed to the East coast for a family wedding. Generally I am the kind of person who arrives to the airport 2 hours early, from boarding (not departure), so I can zip through TSA pre-check and snag a cocktail to kick off my adventuring. Let alone, when I am concerned about a Hurricane delaying the flight and obstacle of checking a bag for the first time in years.
So, it didn’t go over well when my partner turned to me in the Lyft, 4 minutes after leaving the apartment 45 minutes late to my schedule, to inform me that her cell phone was left in the apartment…
Boom. Cortisone spike.
Fear, anger, and betrayal flooded my mind. But so did something else. Love for my girlfriend who must have felt twice that toward herself without me heaping on more.
I immediately started re-directing our driver who successful swooped around, got us back, and delivered us to the airport with time to board without the embarrassing call over the intercom. The moment of most evident mindfulness is when I was in the Lyft and I observed the distinction between two course of action and which was more aligned with how I intend to express myself in life.
Empowered by core beliefs to live a more aligned, focused life. Allowing my emotions to fuel me from behind instead of blur my vision and direction… and preventing getting dumped by my lady!
When I first started making major headway on implementing mindfulness to help my emotional/mental, balance I tried a tons of new exercises, habits, and philosophies to help my mind and body grow. Have you ever noticed how after you yawn you feel a little more awake and focused? These exercises are kind of like that. My favorites included yoga/martial arts, saunas, and of course box breathing.
Box breathing is a micro-meditation technique I thought at first too simple to be powerful. I was wrong.
The premise is leveraging a quick, systemized breathing process to move your mind to clear thought.
4 count to breath in
4 count to hold your breath
4 count to exhale out
4 count to hold empty lungs
Pretty simple, huh? For more ideas on how to implement mindfulness in your daily life, check out our previous blog, How To Practice Mindfulness.
You can leverage this tool whenever you need help observing your thoughts or emotional experiences. My advice is to keep this in your back pocket the next time you are feeling tired or conflicted to gain a place of clarity on your thoughts.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
―Thich Nhat Hanh