Being mindful is one of those concepts that seems so simple on the surface, but is quite deep and profound. The simplest definition of being mindful is being present; being aware of your surroundings, your thoughts, your feelings at any given moment. A focus on breathing is often used to support mindfulness, for one reason — if you are focused on your breath, your mind is not in the past or the future — just the present.

How mindful are you?

One approach is called “square breathing,” where you inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, hold for four counts (and repeat). This is an excellent tool for reducing stress, as well as clearing the mind and feeling more grounded. Being mindful also requires a bit of detachment from thoughts and feelings — instead of letting your thoughts and feelings carry you away, you are an objective, non-judgmental observer. As Thich Nhat Hahn says, “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

Tilt Weekly Challenge: This week, I will take at least 3 minutes a day to stop and focus on my breathing… and notice what effect that has on me.

Avoiding being Stoic (Overuse): When you take that sense of detachment from equanimity to indifference, you have gone too far. At that point, you are so detached from feelings that you are unable to relate to others effectively. This may come across as being selfish or narcissistic because it can appear that you are less compassionate towards others, when it may just be that you’ve lost your sense of self. This can lead to apathy, poor interrelations with others and negative feelings towards oneself.

Commendable Trait: Mindful
Underused: Reactive
Overused: Stoic
Strength: Focus
Quadrant: Wisdom

“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.”
Amit Ray


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