What Is Mindfulness?

sue henryI like to define mindfulness as “The act of being attentive, aware or careful with your thoughts, words and actions” day to day I like to think of mindfulness as making deliberate choices for what I want.

Mindfulness is a great connector of humans and a catalyst for more love, peace and happiness in our lives. Unfortunately when you are not mindful and just blundering along pain comes into our lives or the lives others.

Mindfulness has a direct correlation with consequence. By making choices in our lives (something which we do every day all day!) we are making distinctions about the consequences that are delivered to us.

Let me give you an example, on a rather difficult day while my father was in hospital I had to dash down to the local shops to pick up ink for my printer to copy and send off some documents to the police. I was stressed and feeling anxious. When I arrived at the shopping centre car spaces were scarce and I drove around for what felt like an eternity (in reality probably 5 mins) looking for a spot. The only spaces were the areas marked “Cars with Prams”  I knew in my heart that parking there was not the right thing to do, I deliberately CHOSE (against my knowingness) to park there, justifying in my mind that I would be in and out of the shops within 10 mins.

I had barely shut the car door when a woman appeared screaming and pointing at me that I had no right to be parking there without a child in the car and that it should be left for those that need it (in incredibly colourful and spiteful language). I’m not proud of what I did next… I turned to her and shouted to her to shut it, and that there were bigger problems in the world than a bleeping parking spot. I told her (or rather shouted) to mind her own business and walked away. I felt shaky, more stressed and even more anxious than I had when I left home. I was so angry with her and even more with myself.

It wasn’t until later that night that I thought about what had happened and what my role in it had been and what the consequences were from both of our actions. Here is what I discovered:

1. Had I chosen to continue to look for a parking spot and not parked there, none of it would have happened. Both she and I would have continued on with our day without the added angst.

2. Had she approached me in a manner that was more considerate, and her tone neutral and polite “excuse me did you realise this is a parking zone for parents with prams” we may have been able to engage in a conversation where both of us could have walked away and continued on with our day without the added angst.
You see in this situation I did two things that were not mindful 1. I went against my first instinct and 2. I never stopped to think about the interaction, I reacted instead of responding to what was happening. It could be argued that I was in a fight or flight mode because of my stress but I knew I had put myself in that situation by the choice I had made and the consequence that was delivered. (It would be an easy position to blame what was happening in my life at the time, however, that is not a mindful nor responsible approach to life. And if I want to live in a better community I have to be a better human.)

This is a small example of what happens every day across the globe in one form or another, the car that cuts you off, the child that  throws a tantrum, the partner that lies, the boss that is demanding, the people holding up the escalator traffic, the person that leaves their litter behind, the person that doesn’t take their shopping trolley back and leaves it in the car park, the person that pushes in a queue, and on and on with what are seemingly small infractions that all have a consequence. It is the people that go by the mantra “don’t ask for permission, seek forgiveness later”.

It is these consequences that are creating problems in everyday life and these consequences that are breeding a culture of irresponsible behaviours within our communities.

What will you do today to be more mindful?

Keep smiling!


Sue 🙂

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