Author: Daria Romanova - yoga therapist
The inspiration to write this post and share it with you came from one of my wonderful students recently asking me what mindfulness represented for me. Just out of curiosity, before I started writing this article, I made a search on Instagram for the #mindfulness hashtag. 18,5 million posts came up in English and 1 million posts in my mother tongue (Russian). Skimming through the search results made me realise that the idea of mindfulness represents different things to different people...anything from yoga poses to food, from beautiful natural landscapes and architecture to cute looking animals.
What is mindfulness for me? I personally put an equal sign between mindfulness and awareness. Being mindful in my daily life activities means being aware of what I do and why I do it. If I'm not able to answer those questions, it's very likely that I'm acting on autopilot or out of a very strong emotional state, such as fear or anger. When I was much younger it was challenging for me, if not impossible, to sense the states of anger or fear creeping in. However, with some years of practice, I became more aware of those states making their way into my being. When we become more aware of our sensations and where they come from, we can prevent ourselves from saying or doing something that we are likely to regret later on in life.
Asking yourself the questions of 'what I do and why I do this' 24/7 doesn't feel like a sensible or healthy thing to do, and I would definitely not recommend this to anyone. Nevertheless, I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone once per day to make time, find a place where you can sit down, softly close your eyes, notice yourself breathing in and out, and start observing what is happening beyond your thoughts, beyond your sensations, beyond your breath. Don't judge your observations as good or bad, as desirable or undesirable but merely shine a soft light of awareness on those.
Start with 3 to 5 minutes of awareness practice every day. Choose the place (your bathroom, living room, a bench in the park outside your office building, for example), make time (really make time) that works with your daily planning. From personal experience, I can assure you that you will be distracted by daily activities coming up on your agenda, despite this, please stay consistent with the practice of awareness without expecting anything. Especially explore this approach in moments of feeling overwhelmed by certain events (changes at work or personal life). Above all, please breathe with awareness.