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Mindfulness is More Than What Goes on in Our Heads

Oct 2022

Most everyone has heard of the ‘practice’ of mindful awareness and relate it to some sort of meditation. While that isn’t necessarily wrong…it’s far from the full picture.

When we practice mindful awareness, what is it we are becoming aware of?

  • How scattered our minds are
  • How chaotic our thoughts can be
  • How much talking is going on in our heads – constantly

We might also become aware of our ‘distractability’…how easily our attention wanders from thought to thought and how fidgety we become trying to be still.

Unfortunately, most of us learned early on in our lives to disconnect our heads from our bodies. We got good at ignoring our present moment physical sensations to avoid feeling difficult emotions. We learned to ignore or push away from the sensations of sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, and loneliness and to distract ourselves with something – anything other than what was happening in the moment.

We may have been accused of being ‘too sensitive’ or ‘over- reacting and being dramatic’ during stressful experiences and we learned to think rather than to feel. We learned to trust our thoughts, not our feelings or emotions. We learned to repress rather than express.

It didn’t take long for us to be rewarded for using our brains over identifying with our bodies. We were rated with test scores, report cards and reinforced for having the ‘right answer’. Not much validation was given for sharing our intuition, hunches, thoughts, or opinions – especially if they were different than everyone else.

Now, as adults many of us are finding it difficult to identify with our emotions, to express them appropriately and our bodies are screaming with an array of physical symptoms including: headaches, stomachaches, elevated heart-rates, pulsing blood pressure, shortness of breath, constipation and diarrhea, aches/pains and much, much more.

When we live from the neck up and encounter emotionally challenging situations, we may find it difficult to accept how we are feeling or to connect with and trust our own instincts and emotions. We lack awareness of our own triggers and blame others for ‘setting us off’. We often feel unsafe, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Our bodies are yelling for our attention, but we have disconnected and don’t know how to get back to ourselves and reintegrate.

With practice, we start to become aware of the connection between what’s going on in our heads with what’s going on in our bodies.

This is mindful awareness…integrating our thoughts, feelings, and emotions with the sensations of our body in the present moment. Being aware of all of ourselves – not only fragmented bits and pieces. Hearing the voice of our own intuition and having it validated by the sensations in our body.

When we practice mindful awareness, we can become aware of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, and the stories we’ve told ourselves. We can learn to trust our intuition and gut instincts and rely on our body to communicate effectively.

We begin to recognize our triggers and respond to our own needs with self-compassion, patience, and kindness.

When we learn to feel our body in the present moment, we notice how we speak, we recognize our body language, our voice tone, and the words we choose. We become aware and present in all our interactions and are able to integrate this awareness with how we choose to feel and how we choose to respond.

Becoming aware of the present moment is the only intention of mindful awareness. Being able to notice, to sense, to feel, to sit with, to allow, and to accept whatever is – without needing anything to be different. Learning to just be…without any need to fix or change anything.

Awareness itself is the healer and the teacher. When we know better, we do better. When we feel better, we are better.

Mindfulness is not about silencing the mind…even if we could. It’s not about slipping off into some ecstatic moment of complete disconnection. Mindfulness is about integrating the mind, the body, and the spirit and realizing we are more than what goes on in our head.