Column: Mindfulness can help you understand yourself better

Gillian Eubanks

What is mindfulness and why is it important? Why do people say to “be present” and what does being present even look or feel like? Where do you even begin? Let’s put this in perspective.

Sometimes because of life’s ups and downs, we can find our minds preoccupied with daily stressors leading us to create this inner turmoil or anxiety. We may constantly go back in our minds to something from the past, or try to predict the future with no substantial evidence to make a likely prediction. Now, we are all guilty of this, so don’t feel called out. Though, what happens when this becomes such a habit that you can’t find a way to break it?

Well, you could end up missing out on the present moment. You may not fully understand your own emotions, feelings or thoughts. The truth is that we can’t live inside our heads. We can’t live in the past and we can’t even live in the future because it’s not here yet. This is where mindfulness becomes crucial to your wellbeing.

Mindfulness is the act of being in the present moment and fully recognizing how we are feeling, what our thoughts are, our environment, etc. Mindfulness is essentially bringing yourself back down to Earth. Some people practice mindfulness through meditation. If that’s not your thing, mindfulness can be taking 5 minutes in the morning when you first wake up to breathe and observe your thoughts.

When you are practicing mindfulness and observing your thoughts and emotions, it’s important to greet yourself with understanding and acceptance. When a bad thought or emotion pops up, mindfulness can help you understand the root causes of them. Don’t judge yourself when these negative emotions or thoughts come up. Remember to validate yourself. While exploring these root causes can cause some discomfort, they’re good to recognize.

A specific way that you can practice mindfulness is the next time someone upsets you, instead of responding right away, observe yourself. Feel the feelings that arise without judgement and ask yourself, “why does this situation cause this feeling in me?” This act of pausing before you react and exploring the feelings is going to help you understand those feelings more.

Another way you can practice mindfulness is to play eye spy with yourself. Look around your environment and ask yourself what you see, and pick out some objects. It sounds silly but this is an excellent way to connect yourself with the present moment and your environment.

Mindfulness is an amazing way to do introspection to better understand yourself, and is worth practicing.

 

Gillian Eubanks is a junior health communication major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]