Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, without judgement, to the present moment. It calls us to be aware of the space between a feeling and how we act upon that feeling.
Our brains and bodies are constantly taking in important information about our needs and surroundings through our five senses and felt experience. That information affects our entirely physiology through complex systems of nerves that connect to our brain.
Our emotional experiences connect to these responses from our body’s sensory systems — whether we’re aware of them or not. Frustration, anger, sadness, and annoyance boil down to survival responses: we feeling something to be a threat to us: to our understanding, our safety, our community, our worldview, our self-control… the list goes on.
Mindfulness offers us a way to untangle all of this through awareness in the present moment… instead of letting our body’s responses run away with our emotions and behaviors. Mindfulness doesn’t look to change or eliminate these feelings themselves; it looks to offer us a lens of greater peace and acceptance through which to examine them.
When we see clearly, rather than through a stress response designed to help us run from flash floods and fight off hungry wild animals, we can take care of our experiences and feelings with love and compassion instead of judgement and avoidance. Then we are better equipped to both cope with and solve the challenges we face.