Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness

Late last February (two weeks before the national shutdown), I went to a cluster of lectures facilitated by the famous Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis. I remember feeling exhilarated as I walked to this workshop, gleefully rejoicing that my 2-month-old was sleeping (on me), that I figured out how to use the baby carrier and felt good enough to attend these lectures. You know that feeling when you just know you’re supposed to be in the place that you are. Well, this was one of those moments for me. (Looking back on this day, I feel that even more— as this was the last big organized public thing I have attended since then.)

The first workshop was all about mindfulness, which is:

being present to the present moment on purpose, with acceptance and without judgement

-mindfulness definition ( Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis).

Maybe sounds really simple to you? Or not!? In either case, let me break it down a bit:

Being present to the present moment on purpose: intentionally choosing to be aware of your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations (example: I notice I am feeling energized…. nervous…. and, sad. I notice I am thinking about my schedule today. I notice I am sensing tightness in my shoulder and breath going in my nostrils). Note: You do not need to qualify what you are noticing. Also, you absolutely can be noticing feelings, thoughts, sensations that seem to contradict each other (like the feelings example above, which I notice I am literally experiencing right now).

With acceptance: acknowledging what is. In her description of acceptance, I remember Dr. Bryant-Davis clarifying that “accepting” what is doesn’t mean that you necessarily agree with it or wish it to remain that way. The main theme here seems to be acknowledging.

Without judgement: without being critical of yourself for the things you are noticing. (Note: you might be used to being critical of yourself and judging yourself! If you identify with that, too, you could think of yourself as being able to grow in this aspect of mindfulness).

Central to mindfulness is this idea that we are intentionally choosing to be awake to whatever is going on around us: instead of perhaps dwelling on the past or anxiously anticipating the future, we are acknowledging the current moment, in exactly the way that it is. Now, this can be so, so hard— because your default might be either auto-pilot (and not being aware of the present moment) and/or judging the present moment and desperately wishing it were different than it is.

The good news here, thankfully, is that growing in mindfulness is like building a muscle– it increases and strengthens through practice.

More good news! Not only has mindfulness practice been proven to reduce stress and anxiety (among many other physical and emotional health benefits), but also there are so many ways that we can choose to be mindful. For example, we can mindfully… breathe, walk, eat, wash dishes, pray, drive, talk, brush our teeth, etc.

In her talk, Dr. Bryant-Davis also differentiated between Christian mindfulness and the mindfulness that is part of many contemporary practices and traditions today: In Christian mindfulness, you imagine yourself opening up to the Holy Spirit; whereas in many traditional mindfulness circles, mindfulness is connected with emptying yourself.

If you’re interested in learning more about the practicalities of “how” to practice mindfulness, check out my”Mindfulness Resource” page. I am intentionally engaging in building my “mindfulness” muscle. If you’re interested too at any point, please comment or DM me on my “inspirational” insta account, @robynbroadus. 🙂

May we grow in mindfulness, in love towards ourselves and in love towards each other. Even when there’s chaos around us, may we have this unexplainable peace, and hope. Amen.

Warmly, Robyn

Feature Image: This is a picture of a Venetian Canal. Though I’ve never been to Venice, I imagine that this canal can get pretty bustling and chaotic! In this moment, though, there is peace. That’s how I think of mindfulness– being at peace even when there’s bustle and chaos around you. Photo by Faruk Kaymak on Unsplash

3 Comments Add yours

  1. addiezdaddy says:

    Glad that you touched on the distinction from mindfulness rooted in eastern mysticism. There’s good stuff but like most things from the very first deception, Satan adds a lie to the truth like a fly in the ointment.

    Liked by 1 person

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