Searching for my personal definition of mindfulness

In my blog I will focus on my ‘moments of mindfulness’ in my day to day life. Writing about this will be a good mindfulness practice and exercise in itself because even though mindfulness has a central role in my life, still it’s not so easy to point out exactly how I (try to) practice mindfulness in my own life, moment by moment and day by day.

Of course there is the obvious daily (ideally) or regular (realistically) meditation and yoga practice in the early mornings, before the rest of the family wakes up. The hours I spend with clients explaining, teaching and discussing mindfulness concepts is another obvious thing. But what about all the other hours in my day when I’m just living my life, doing normal things like cooking, grocery shopping, bathing my youngest daughter and untangling her hair. When I’m interacting with my husband, my children, my friends? Where and how do I apply mindfulness when I’m not doing any formal mindfulness practice?

To get more insight and clarity in this subject I first have to identify for myself what I mean with mindfulness. The most common definition of mindfulness is : To be aware and to give attention to the present moment and to do so in a non-judgmental, non-reactive and accepting way.

This is a very clear description, yet, it still doesn’t explain how I personally experience and apply mindfulness. So let me try to figure out my own explanation and meaning of this definition…

…When something happens that somehow affects me or one of my loved ones I usually immediately recognize it as such by a small change in my mood. The recognition of this mood change is a signal for me to pay extra attention and to prevent myself from reacting on the autopilot. Autopilot behavior  is the opposite of mindfulness. It means that you do things instinctively, as you always do them, often based on very old patterns and ‘thought tracks’. Autopilot behavior can often be destructive and is usually not the best possible way to react.

So one important way how I apply mindfulness is that I become quickly aware of my autopilot reaction and then stop myself from ‘acting out’ on this reaction.  It means that I allow myself some time to think and feel  what would be the best possible reaction to give in that moment instead of just reacting. In mindfulness this is called non-reactivity.

Mindfulness for me is also strongly connected to knowing what ‘the best possible reaction’ in any given situation is. I have spend and will continue spending a lot of time on identifying my core values and indicating how I know I’m living them. Having this clear gives me a strong sense of direction when I’m thinking about ‘the best possible reaction’.

Part of my personal mindfulness definition  is then: being aware of autopilot behavior and practicing non-reactivity until I’ve identified my best possible reaction based on my core values!

Second part of my definition will follow in my next blog!