Beauty / Wellbeing

What is mindfulness in the modern world?

Hannah Holman @ IMG wears MARYIET bra from Par Femme.

A buzz word that we read many a time on our endless iPhone scroll. Here, Jacqui Lewis of The Broad Place explains the meaning behind the buzz:

Mindfulness is simply being aware of the present moment. That is, to be totally and utterly present to life and not distracted and disjointed. Usually with this awareness a sense of calm and clarity comes with it, hence why it has become a highly desirable thing in the West, as our attention is often divided. Mindfulness is actually a very ancient Eastern concept, and originally stemmed from meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn was a huge influence on the mindfulness movement, with a program based around meditation, and along the way it became a household name for ‘being here now’. A buzz word amongst coaches, gurus and anyone in the wellbeing industry, it can be somewhat funny and at times frustrating to see the concept being continually butchered. A thirst for mindfulness is huge in the corporate sector, linked in part to productivity. These days, there is mindfulness everything, from a ‘mindful coffee practice’ to ‘mindful colouring in (for adults)’ filling every book store and news agency. We can all agree that modern society is running on hyper speed a lot of the time, and the need to slow things down could benefit many. 

So how do you cut through all the chaff and get to the gold that can be mindfulness? In part it’s not a practice in itself! It’s the result of meditation, so try practice a technique that works for you every single day and watch your present moment awareness and enjoyment of life increase. I also hear too many people getting stressed out that they haven’t fit in their ‘15 minutes of mindfulness practice’. Any moment in the day can be an opportunity to get present. We just have to keep our awareness on the fact that very rarely are we present. Usually as we are trying to do too many things at once. The opposite of mindfulness is what we have termed at The Broad Place as ‘Mashing’; which is doing multiple things at once.

Mashing is when you text when driving and try sip your latte from your keep cup - all at the same time. Mashing is where you run a bath for your kids and are in a WhatsApp group message session and responding to emails whilst checking water temperatures. It’s when you watch Netflix and scroll on your iPad simultaneously. Or eat dinner while checking Twitter. Or type on your computer whilst on the phone to a friend.

It’s utterly divided attention. If you have 100 per cent of your attention in 4 places, each is only getting a quarter of your attention. We have to ask, is this how I really want to live, in a fractured life? A rich fulfilled life is when we are really present to what’s happening, and we definitely have time for that, we just have to claim it.

Jacqui Lewis is the Principal of The Broad Place, Paddington.