If letting go of all of the expectations is the biggest thing you can do to help you on your mindfulness journey, the second biggest is to remember that mindfulness isn’t about focusing on your mind. I think a lot of people can make that mistake, and that’s when those thoughts can come pouring in.
Mindfulness is about focusing on and paying attention to your body: noticing your breath, some tingles in your feet, maybe a nice warm fuzzy feeling, or some discomfort or pain in your body. It’s about noticing that sensation in the body and letting it go. Feel how you occupy space in the world – your height (head to toes), your breadth (side to side) and your depth (front to back). That’s all it is, and that is the gateway to developing awareness to the here and now, to your own presence.
Ultimately, the practice of mindfulness helps you develop your ‘inner witness’. It’s about you recognising yourself, and that you are not your thoughts and emotions, you are not your situation, you are you.
Just being able to name your feelings, notice them, and pay attention to where they’re coming from and where they’re going – that can give you the ability to respond from a place filled with calm and possibility. It can allow you to take back some control. Particularly in our current climate, I think that’s pretty helpful.
Like anyone, I often find myself thinking or feeling things that I don’t necessarily like. But now that I’ve been cultivating and practicing mindfulness for so long, I am better able to catch them, recognise them for what they are, and let them go.
I think Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, articulated it best when he said: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
So go on. Be kind to yourself, take it at your own pace, and don’t expect too much. Mindfulness might just work for you after all.