Are You “Mindful” or Mindful?

By Li Stebner

We are told to become mindful: take classes on meditation or yoga, try to allot ten minutes of the day to enjoy life, and pay more attention to our thoughts. Yet, if we need to make mindfulness a priority, then are we actually encompassing what mindfulness means?

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s thoughts, (Webster dictionary). To do this means to always be aware of yourself and your surroundings, not only when you are in Yoga or Tai Chi. Having scheduled times of the day when you decide to practice mindfulness is not being mindful; if this is the case, then you are not constantly having an open mind or being aware of your thoughts.

Instead of making time to be mindful and having to schedule half an hour each day for meditation, why don’t we make an effort to simply respect ourselves and respect others? Every moment of the day, we should simply make an effort to listen to the world around us – to realize and take note of others’ opinions, as well as to enjoy the sun that shines and the clear streams that flow.

The Huffington Post suggests ten tips that we could us when trying to create “the new you”. This is a collaboration of the tips that I found most important for teenagers going through a lot of stress:

  1. We should live from our strengths.  Our minds criticize what we can’t do, what we aren’t good at, but what about the things we are? If we live from these, we will be able to show a courage that will empower others to be more confident, as well.
  2. Start talking positively. Instead of gossiping about what “she” did, or what horrible grade you received, talk about how great “she” handled the bad news, or think about how well you did on another quiz and how you could do better in the future.
  3. Surround yourself with people who encourage you; this will bring peace to your mind and allow you to feel more open and alive. It will also encourage you to support others.

So, instead of having to be mindful, why don’t we just make an effort to become more aware? We should become aware of surroundings, peers, words, and how we appear to others. Awareness is the true key to mindfulness.