Mindfulness - No Fancy Yoga Pants Required

Mindfulness. Does the mere thought invoke an image of yoga pants, beautifully styled photos with white females looking serene? If so, you’re not alone. Mindfulness has, as of late, become the dejour of self-help in the Western world. However, the practice as been around for millennia and only recently it seems has Western society gotten the hint. Let’s be clear…it IS rooted in non-secular practice but the good news is, anyone can do it in a non-secular way.

 

I was first introduced to mindfulness in grief counseling a dozen years ago. My brother had passed way when I was just 14 years old and using all the fabulous techniques of distract, buy and ignore, I’d gotten pretty far in being able to “handle” my emotions. Until I couldn’t. Depression and anxiety had followed me around since age 14 and there I was, 28 years old, embarking on my career (finally!!!) and unable to run anymore. How could it be that keeping busy didn’t work anymore?! You mean I had to actually intentionally look at and acknowledge my feelings? Ugh.

 

Though I didn’t know it at the time, my therapist gifted me what is called noting practice. It is, on the surface, quite simple. When you realize you’re having an emotion, you simple name it. That’s it. “Oh, huh, I notice I am feeling sad right now.” Name it: Sadness

 

And with that “simple” practice I was introduced to how mindfulness helps create space between one’s self and emotion. By noting how I was feeling it oddly became less terrifying to feel. Was it a panacea? Absolutely not. Has it turned me into a serene, yoga pant wearing happy white woman? Not exactly.

 

When it comes down to it, mindfulness is a practice. A practice of choosing, reflecting and accepting that does not mean emptying one’s mind of all thought. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Mindfulness helps create the wherewithal for us to become aware of patterns of thought. Next time you feel a “bad” emotion try naming it and noting it. That’s it. No fancy yoga pants required.