According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word for 2012 was #hashtag. Considering that last year’s was ‘Selfie’, it is refreshing to know that the word of 2014 is slightly less vein and social media focussed.
The word that encapsulates the ideologies, practices, shifts and social progression for the year that is almost finished (where the HELL did it go??) happens to be: mindfulness.
Luckily for ‘quote queens’ like myself, this means that we don’t have to conduct any rigorous #instagram searches to find streams of inspiring + positive quotes associated with the notion, and to see how much the phenomenon has spread and is transforming lives.
For others however, I know that this can seem like a utopian, unrealistic, ‘hippy only’ idea that is unachievable, or means absolutely shit- all.
So instead of boring y’all with a formal definition, and in an attempt to make this post as accessible and interesting as possible, I thought I would express my excitement over our movement towards awareness and presence and all things positive, by highlighting a few of the benefits of the concept which really has EVERYONES best interests at heart, with the main goal being : HAPPINESS.
Before I do however, I cannot ignore the current headline blaring across the television as I write this. At this present moment, it has been reported that around 15 people are being held hostage inside the Lindt chocolatiers in central Sydney, AUS.
Naturally, viewers minds jump to past events of similarity– terrorist attacks performed by extremists who justify their actions by Islamic doctrine. We also immediately fear for the future– questioning the safety our of country, the world, our families, ourselves.
We cannot forget that 2014 has been paralysed with horrific events including be-headings and the shooting down and disappearance of planes, among many other natural and man made tragedies.
The role such realities play on our happiness, and ability to live in the present [without stressing over our futures, or harbouring regrets and grudges from past trauma] is undeniable (and valid). This, however, is the reality of life.
Unfortunately we can do little to control the actions of others, particularly those who are severely brainwashed. as cliché as it sounds, the only person we can control is ourself, and if we want to see change in the world, we must start with ourselves.
Learning to simply observe and accept the constant flow of our thoughts and emotions without judgement, in every present moment may (seem like) something only those bald, buddhist monks practice, (also referred to as meditation), but it is also classed as mindfulness. And it is bloody life changing.
A common assumption that many of us have about meditation is the need for a blank mind; the ability to ‘switch off’ and not think, which is fairly friggen’ impossible. Sitting on a hard floor, cross-legged without adjustment or flinching for longer than five minutes is also something that most of us leave for the hairy arm- pitted.
The truth is however, that none of these expectations are required to watch our own process, challenge the negative, fearful thoughts and emotions we have, in a calming, intrigued manner, and allow them to come, and to go. All we have gotsta’ do is be AWARE; mindful.
For example- if ya fancy of bottle of vino on a Monday night when you think you shouldn’t; question why ya need the booze (?) Simply examine the thoughts and emotions that are swimming around, without judgement. The activity alone can lead you to change your actions, and understand your sub conscious response to recent (or past or futuristic) events.
Having been conditioned to suppress any negative emotions, has made expressing them through crying, writing, speaking to the cause (honestly and calmly), or other healthy outlets like exercise and meditation really difficult to do.
However, the more we let shit bottle up, the bigger the hole we dig for ourselves, and those around us.
Practicing acceptance of our thoughts and feelings can lead us to be more accepting of ourselves; the good, bad and ugly (inside and out) which then leads to positive change. The more acceptance we have for ourselves, the more we will have for others.
[The use of mindfulness can lead us to identify what annoys us about someone else, which usually is something we do ourselves, or someone who has hurt us, does].
Do you see how beneficial this shit can be? do you know how much easier and enjoyable life is when we calm down and stop caring about unnecessary stresses?
When we learn to accept ourselves; our pasts, and begin to live in the present moment, we gradually become less dependent on others, for emotional and physical needs.
This can be freeing, as we no longer NEED another human to fill a void, or heal our wounds, or to make us happy.
As a result, mindfulness can lead to the maintaining of positive, beneficial relationships, and the dropping of toxic, unhealthy ones.
Gratitude is another buzz word closely relating to the word of the year. While Americans have dedicated a holiday to the practice for a very long time, many of us forget to count the ‘little’ stuff that actually makes life pretty fucking beautiful.
Simply writing a list about the qualities of a particularly person or event each day or week or month, can REALLY change our moods, and make us happier.
So, as the behavioural scientist, yoga loving + counselling student that I am, I guess I’ve made my joy and optimism over the modern phenomenon that is #mindfulness, rather clear.
I can’t express enough, how helpful dropping the judgement and finding self- acceptance is, as well as living in the moment. For me, this was only achievable when I took the time to really tune into to my inner thoughts and feelings, and address the shitty stuff that had piled up over my life.
I hope y’all can find a little love and acceptance over the holidays. The present moment is literally all that we have. Remember that, and treasure who and what exists in it right now. Worry about tomorrow,when it comes and have a beautiful break.
Thanks for reading and supporting my little blog this year, I am very GRATEFUL for the love.
I look forward to seeing what next years word is.
Happy New Year XX