We often hear of this word during our practice- Mindfulness. But what does it really mean?
I’ve always thought it was just being more aware of the surroundings and my actions. However, there’s more behind it. It is shifting from memories and future plans to what is happening at the current moment. It is about giving our present thoughts and emotions undivided attention. Most importantly, it is about allowing our thoughts to freely flow through the mind and not reacting and judging it.
I know it sounds fluffy and airy, however, practicing mindfulness does a great deal to our body. It
regulates our emotions, reduces stress, lowers judgmental attitudes and even reshape our brain structures. It helps develop the ability to recognize when thought patterns arise and observe them in a detached manner without the need to become involved with them thereby reducing stress and improving our focus.
So how does it work during our practice?
Imagine you’re in Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (my least favourite pose), you notice your thighs burning and your arms and shoulders tired from the stretch. In your head you’re counting down the time left in this pose, you’re feeling frustrated, annoyed (why did I pay to torture myself, why is the teacher counting so slowly). While the teacher turns away, you grasp the chance to relax your arms and pretend it’s an adjustment once the focus is back on you. Sounds all too familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’m pretty sure 99.9% of us have felt this way.
Now, imagine another scenario while you’re in Parivrtta Parsvakonasana. You’re still feeling frustrated and inpatient. However, instead of reacting, you start observing your thoughts. Notice the muscle you’re working, where you feel resistance and tightness, and where you feel you can exert more. Notice your breath, the speed and the depth of it. Break the moment down; be aware of your feelings and thoughts without judging them. You might even feel grateful that you are able to be on the mat today and appreciate the posture even more.
I hope this post helps with your practice! You will be surprised by your change in perceptions as you move through your practice with awareness and mindfulness.