Busting the 8 myths of 'Mindfulness'
When you see the word ‘mindfulness’, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Burning incense in a candlelit room? A Buddhist monk praying? Sitting barefoot chanting in a circle?
Maybe. But the truth is, if I randomly ask the next 5 people I see on the street what comes to mind, I’m sure no response would be the same. That’s the beauty of it: there’s no single textbook definition, nor another word that can completely sum up what it actually stands for. The above most certainly isn’t all there is to it.
But this is also the downside. There’s a lot of things out there projecting what ‘mindfulness’ is, and unfortunately, a lot of it comes across as fluffy and misleading. It’s no surprise that many of us feel overwhelmed in the search for more clarity in figuring out what on earth it actually is!
This is why I am here to set the record straight and debunk the most common myths about ‘mindfulness’.
#1 It’s just the latest buzzword and another passing trend
While it’s no question that mindfulness has reached mainstream popularity in the past 10 years, it wasn’t invented in the last century. In fact, its origins are rooted in Buddhist traditions that emerged thousands of years ago. It entered the Western medicine world in the 1970s when professors and researchers gained interest and began to actively research the benefits of practising mindfulness through meditation.
So no, unlike juice cleanses and yoga pants, practising mindfulness began well before our time on earth and in a world that’s only moving faster and getting busier, it seems we need it more than ever.
#2 You have to look and dress a certain way
Anyone can practise mindfulness no matter their age, gender, background or physical appearance. Bringing awareness to universal human qualities we experience - our thoughts, emotions, physical senses and surrounding environment - means that everyone can practise it in a way that’s natural and most beneficial to them.
Truth is, the moments where you can benefit the most from being more mindful are the ones where you’re probably not dressed to feel 100% “ready”. So don’t only rely on looking or dressing a certain way if you want to cultivate mindfulness as a habit you can benefit from in the long-run.
#3 You have to be in the ‘perfect’ environment
Fluffy cushions, scented candles, soothing music and sparkling crystals. Sounds airy fairy right?
Similar to #2 above, practising mindfulness doesn’t require a certain time and place. It’s definitely a lot harder to be mindful when you’re stuck in peak hour traffic and a driver cuts in front of you, or you’re staying late at the office after your manager hands over another last-minute deadline. Being able to face your raw emotions and unfiltered thoughts towards an environment and adjusting your reaction, even when your physical surrounding is challenging and seems to be working against you, this is exactly the best time to practise mindfulness.
#4 It’s only about sharing your feelings
Mindfulness starts with the individual and being honest with yourself. In a world that’s full of noise, our minds are constantly distracted and our indulgent egos are always pushing aside the present to rehash the past or imagine the future. Being more mindful and aware gives us space in our mind to develop the skills to have a deeper connection with our physical and emotional self.
So yes, this includes understanding how you feel. Whether you’re ready to share this with others is entirely up to you.
#5 You have to be religious
Even though the roots of mindfulness go back to Buddhist teachings (see #1) and many techniques used today are influenced by religious principles, we don’t have to take mindfulness based on faith. Both scientific studies and shared experiences have provided more than enough evidence on the positive benefits it can bring to our health & well-being, relationships, and happiness. Mindfulness is a universal practice and does not mean you have to be religious - many people who practise it are not and neither am I.
#6 It’s something that can be changed overnight
Mindfulness is a way of living and has no end goal. Like any habit you want to create, it’s challenging and takes time, patience and consistency. Don’t expect your life to be changed just through lighting a scented candle or reading an inspirational quote - it’s about continually applying the teachings of mindfulness in a practical way that changes you.
Even people who have meditated for a number of years have days where they feel like they’ve dropped the ball. Everyone’s mindfulness journey is gradual and you’ll experience the true benefits over time, in your own way.
#7 It’s interchangeable with meditation
Mindfulness is NOT mediation and they aren’t interchangeable. While techniques like meditation and yoga are by far two of the most common, there are many other proven techniques to do so. Cultivating your awareness can be practised through writing in a journal, taking a silent walk to observe your thoughts, noticing when you lose your patience and not looking at your mobile phone when you’re with family and friends, just to name a few.
#8 It’s easy
There is nothing easy about practising mindfulness. Mindfulness is hard and it hurts. It hurts because you have to face your fears, admit your flaws, let go of things out of your control and confront all the pain you’ve experienced so that you can heal and move forward. Everyone has an ego and doing all this goes against it, so it’s anything but easy. But it’s an extremely rewarding experience that will make you come out happier, more fulfilled and connected to yourself and those around you.
What makes practising mindfulness easier is having someone to guide you and a support network that embraces what you’re doing and the changes you’re going through. I noticed the biggest leaps I experienced in my own journey was when I had a teacher in my life to guide me.
Today, it seems that more of us are losing touch with ourselves. Instead of living on autopilot, learning to be more mindful and rooting ourselves in the present is a powerful form of self-care that reminds us to treat each day as a new opportunity to better ourselves and evolve as individuals.
This is why Mirosuna exists - to offer the practical tools, resources and community support to guide more people who are ready to create space in their lives for positive, long-lasting change, no matter where they’re at on their mindfulness journey. It’s time to cut through the woo and bring mindfulness in its truest form to more people around the world. I welcome you to join my community to find more fulfilment, meaning and connection.