‘WHAT DOES MINDFULNESS MEAN TO YOU?’
Over fifty people practicing yoga at Hot Yoga Eindhoven answered the above question as part of a short survey. The results are revealing and remind us particularly of one important thing, which most of the people answering the question totally missed, but could make us all a lot happier. We’ll get to this later. First, let’s look at how most of you described mindfulness.
Most people answering the question in our survey said that mindfulness has to do with being in the present moment, at peace, having increased awareness and focus.
BEING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
Around half of the people defining mindfulness in the survey said they experienced mindfulness as being or living in the present moment. Being present was linked to calm, focus, awareness and listening.
AT PEACE, IN BALANCE, RELAXED
The second most shared interpretation of mindfulness was being in balance or peace. People described this experience as peace, balance, less stress, relaxed, not thinking about worries of past and future. So this was related to being in the present moment. One person described this state simply as `to stay calm with your breath.’
Being aware or more focused was also important with a correlation between consciously directing focus and being more aware of what you are doing. Some described this as being more in control or becoming better at listening on all levels.
When describing mindfulness, the language was diverse with descriptions like, ´Mind freedom´, ´To be perfectly okay with being silent´, and ´Giving more attention to myself.´ One person related mindfulness to developing awareness with compassion, kindness and generosity.
The word mindfulness is becoming a buzzword that is open to confusion and exploitation. One person admitted, ´I never really understood the word,’ while another who has been practicing mindfulness techniques for more than 30 years said, ´Sometimes I am afraid that it became a hype for many people who don’t know the real meaning of it.´ One of you admitted, ‘I observed a lot of a hype-like interest , so I decided to pass…’
But what about this thing that most of the people responding totally missed?
WHAT YOU MISSED
Mindfulness seems to be something difficult to describe in a sentence, like yoga, because of its deep roots and experiential nature.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, summarised it as: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
It is the last element in this sentence that most people missed when answering the question´What does mindfulness mean to you?´ Only two people mentioned simply observing their own actions, past experiences, happenings without judging in their response with a third person saying ‘…accepting yourself and whatever you are feeling.’
Why so many people missed out on the accepting, non-judging quality of mindfulness is perhaps reflective of our society today. A society where not only do we compare and criticize the performance of others, but just as quickly criticize ourselves for what we have done or what we have failed to achieve.
If mindfulness, along with yoga, gives us the tools to be the best versions of ourselves, and create a calmer and happier and more enlightened society, then it sounds like a plan.
Certainly Mindfulness is our theme at Hot Yoga Eindhoven for November…and we agree that mindfulness is part of yoga practice..