Four Qualities of A Mindful Life
By: Lindsay Miller
As mindfulness becomes more popular every year, we have to ask the question, “What exactly do people mean when they use the word mindfulness?” There are many different approaches to mindfulness and different mindfulness traditions may have different definitions.
You’ll often hear about the ways that mindfulness can help you feel less stressed. Or how mindfulness gives you the ability to experience the present moment without judgment. These are all perfectly fine definitions.
But as you learn more, your definitions and understanding about mindfulness will deepen.
Dr. Daniel Siegel has identified four qualities of mindfulness we need for an optimal life.
- Curiosity. Mindfulness allows us to move from fear into understanding. When we learn to observe our emotions without judgment, we may recognize how often we do things from a place of fear. Fear and curiosity can’t co-exist in our brains. When we can start to see how fear drives us, we can learn to make better choices. By observing without judgment, we discover curiosity. When this happens, we can problem-solve better, discover more creativity and learn new things.
- Openness. When we practice mindfulness, we become more comfortable with what is really happening at any given time. We can approach each moment from a place of non-judgment. Life rarely goes the way we want it to. Being open means letting go of our resistance. When we can be more open instead of fighting reality, we have much less stress. Suffering comes when we are in resistance to the present moment. When we are more clear in the present moment, we can learn to respond more skillfully instead of always just reacting to what happens to us.
- Acceptance. Generally, mindfulness invites us to be more accepting of ourselves. When we are more patient and gentle with ourselves, we start to recognize that we’re doing the best that we can. And we might even find more acceptance for others as well. This isn’t to say that we don’t want things to be better. But when we’re more accepting, we can grow from where things really are instead of wishing things were always different. There is great power in acceptance.
- Love and compassion. While acceptance is more neutral, love is like an embrace. In mindfulness traditions, love is often defined as loving kindness, or compassion. With mindfulness, we can find more compassion for ourselves and learn to embrace all aspects of who we are. This compassion will then start to extend to others and to the whole world. The practice of living in a state of compassionate loving-kindness, that enriches life and all of our relationships, is living in a powerful way.
While each of these qualities on its own can have a big impact, the combination of them is a powerful recipe for finding more resilience and improving our everyday lives. Today these qualities are needed more than ever. Mindfulness doesn’t have to take a lot of time or be complicated. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes to breathe each morning, or walking intentionally instead of focusing on where you are going or what you have to do, noticing the sensation of your feet on the ground, your breath, and the movement in your body. By starting to try a few simple mindfulness practices, we open the door to create qualities of curiosity, acceptance, openness and compassion.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness, check out our weekly mindful yoga and meditation classes at Inbody. Or if you want to take your studies to another level, consider the Mindfulness Teacher training where you can deepen your practice and teach others how to live more mindfully.