Mindfulness is a word and idea that we hear A LOT.
It’s something that I too have searched for, yet I felt like my experience with it was like taking a trip to an unknown destination.
To put it bluntly, I had no clue what the hell I was even doing.
I thought the harder I tried, and the more seriously I focused on mindfulness, the more it would help me. It wasn’t until a recent conversation that I realized just how wrong I was.
What I thought it meant to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness was something I took extremely seriously because I thought it would be the cure to all of my problems.
As someone who struggles with a lot of generalized anxiety, I clung to the concept. I thought mindfulness equated to self-realization, calm and eventually, relief. I was desperate for any escape from the chaotic world inside my brain, and this seemed like my path.
So, I tried.
I practiced yoga. I meditated. I journaled. The whole shebang…. I felt like I should’ve been the most mindful person on the entire planet. Yet I wasn’t. And I’m a Virgo, I DO NOT like not being good at the things I have my mind on.
I tried and tried… but no matter how rigid my routine was nothing seemed to be working. I just was not getting it, and I was getting angry because I strongly believed I was “checking all the boxes.”
However, I kind of had a cold hard wake-up call recently thanks to getting the privilege of interviewing an emotional healer.
Frank Elaridi is a professional healer and one of the three main founders of the wonderful team at Modern Nirvana. He is also an Emmy Award-winning journalist and pro-conversationalist, literally.
Recently, I got the honor to interview him, and out of pure curiosity, I had to ask him about this. Not only because I myself struggled with finding what “mindfulness” meant to me. But because I knew I wasn’t alone in that battle.
Learning that seriousness isn’t the measure of success.
My initiating question for Frank was simple… “Why do you think mindfulness is something that people should take more seriously in their daily lives?”
Here was his powerful response, and believe me – he SHUT IT DOWN right away!
“I think mindfulness should NOT be taken seriously,” says Elaridi, “Have fun with it. Play with it. It’s a game. So many people take life too seriously.”
I laughed out loud when he said that. Because guess what? I am people, obviously.
He explained how so many clients come to him struggling so hard as they try to “perfect” meditation.
LOL. Again, #relatable
Listening to him speak about the beauty of having thoughts was truly relieving.
It can almost feel criminal to have a thought pop into your head while you’re meditating. So to hear that from someone with his experience explain that is not only OK, but welcomed, was such a relief.
Maybe even empowering.
“Meditation is not about not having thoughts,” he says, “It’s about being aware of your thoughts. Watching them. Looking at them. And being a conscious observer of life.”
“A conscious observor of life.
That hit me.
Becoming a “Conscious observer of life.”
Life is incredibly short and miraculous all at the same time.
Being mindful is just the helpful tool that aids in experiencing the situation.
It is beauty in simplicity.
And being “good” at mindfulness has more to do with how you’re actually enjoying yourself, and less to do with how serious or “well” you practice it.
Isn’t that some food for thought?
“When you’re walking and you notice a tree, that’s being mindful,” he says, “You could walk by that tree your whole live and just not understand it. There are so many miracles that go on around us!”
The way the world functions. The way our bodies function.
They’re just aware and they know what to do.
He went on to explain how he had a cut on his arm, and it’s healing itself. While he’s also able to sit with us to do this interview, his body just knows what to do and how to heal itself, and that’s actually really incredible
That mindfulness isn’t just being aware of the interview, but seeing the beauty and peace in the bigger picture.
Feeling it. Internalizing it. Trying to understand it.
That is mindfulness– reaching for a deeper level of knowing.
The sheer simplicity of that explanation really impacted me. But, you know what they say. Sometimes the simplest things in life just go right by us without us even knowing.
Making mindfulness fun again.
Since speaking with Frank, I’ve started to play a little fun and challenging game with myself. As I said, I struggle with high levels of anxiety and can feel very guilty while meditating.
So, I started a new habit when I notice myself jumping into the world of panic. And I started to do it during an activity that I love, which is walking outside on trails.
When I’m out for a walk, I’ve started to make a list of what I notice based on my senses. Literally, like a child, I will list EVERYTHING in my path.
Orange leaf. Brown squirrel. Red cardinal. Cold wind… etc.
I promise I’m not being corny, it has actually helped me!
Being able to be aware of when I’m delving too much into my head and instead just say, “Tree!” really has been a goofy, but fun little game for me to just center myself.
Mindfulness really should be joyful.
You may find mindfulness and meditation to both be things you work really hard to “be good at.” But maybe that is where we are missing out.
Maybe the self-imposed jury in your head isn’t going to convict you for having a thought during your meditation.
My entire meditation practice would just be filled with worry and fear about things that happened ten years ago, thinking about my stressful day or whatever other storm was plaguing my mind. But, to make it worse, I then feel a little guilty for not having a good meditation practice.
I think the most beautiful thing that I got from that experience with Frank was developing a journey with trust in myself.
Trust that I have the answers.
Trust that I’m serving a purpose.
Trust that I am a human being who can do great things while also making mistakes.
And trust that I can develop the inner power to be respectful and compassionate to myself so that I can relay that to the world.