If you’re reading this, it’s fairly safe to assume that you at least have an idea of what mindfulness is. But have you ever asked yourself if it’s all it’s cracked up to be?
Or is it a case of the Emperor’s new clothes?
Let’s face it, certain phrases have become buzzwords over the last few years, both in our work and personal lives. Mindfulness, wellness, spirituality... how often do we see and hear these words? The great thing about this is that it indicates a new, refreshing level of openness around mental health issues. But the potential downside that they become fashionable — and things that come into fashion always end up going out of fashion too!
Another potential downside is that words like mindfulness have become divorced from their original meaning. In the quest for businesses and brands to stay on-trend and relevant, mindfulness is associated with and applied to things that aren’t particularly mindful. We’ve seen a similar pattern with climate and eco-awareness (which itself is arguably a form of environmental wellbeing) and the rise of “green-washing”, where companies talk the eco-friendly, sustainable talk but only put a watered-down version of it into practice!
So when our workplaces, and so many other outlets around us, are encouraging mindfulness, is it genuinely something that can help us cope with the frenetic pace of life? Or is it just another bandwagon to jump on? In my view, mindfulness certainly works. It's the "go-to" coping strategy for so many mental health issues and it works fast. I've seen so many of my clients benefit from the calming effects from mindfulness on stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, elevating mood and allowing a sense of confidence and positivity to take root which enables clinical interventions if they're needed. But mindfulness is not the whole answer for everyone - our circumstances and our backstories are so unique - but it can almost always function as an important piece of the puzzle.
Mindfulness is so devastatingly simple. However it’s dressed up, however it’s branded, wherever you practice it, the basic idea of dropping into the present moment, stepping back and noting where you are, and dispassionately observing how you feel physically and mentally is almost frustratingly easy. It doesn’t require any fancy or expensive clothing or equipment (although guided meditation is a brilliant tool) because we already possess the one basic tool we need for it: awareness. We just have to choose to develop it.
Okay, this is often much harder to achieve in reality because we get so caught up in our workload, the past, the future, and our thoughts and feelings. It’s also not something that we can do successfully without conscious commitment and regular practice. But when we do arrive in the present moment, whether we’re about to do a huge presentation or we’re on the bus home after the most uneventful day imaginable, we connect to something that runs much deeper than words, or even our career — certainly deeper than any “wellness-washing” trend. And no amount of branding can affect that central premise!
Wherever you’re at in your mindfulness journey, whether you want help getting started, help refreshing yourself, or even trying to implement a mindfulness initiative in your own workplace, feel free to reach out as ever for an open, judgement-free chat.