What does “mindfulness” mean? Is it navel-gazing? Making our mind a blank slate, focusing on nothing? Actually, it is none of these things. Mindfulness is simply being present; it is being fully engaged in an experience. Performers call it being “in the zone” — performing at their best, skillfully and accurately, aware of their surroundings and responding in the moment. Mindfulness is being fully present in a conversation, focused on the other person’s words, listening with your head and heart. You are fully engaged.
So, what is zoned out? It’s being in your head. Have you ever left a conversation and felt annoyed by the outcome? In your head you rehash the conversation, coming up with new arguments or comments you wish you had made. You mull it over while driving and then arrive at your destination with no recollection of the trip. You were zoned out, unaware of your real-time experience of driving.
Is this really a problem? Yes. You miss out on so much of life when you’re in your head! You’re with loved ones physically, but somewhere else in your head. You miss out on conversations, meaningful moments and experiences. You miss fully experiencing a beautiful sunset, the pleasure of a delicious bite of food, hearing the wind in the trees or the feel of a loved one’s hand in yours and sweet glances. Being mindful and in the present is when you are fully alive. So, go ahead and live! Get out of your head and be present in your life.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness meditation, I would recommend exploring the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
, who is internationally known for his research and work in mindfulness meditation. He was a pioneer for the integration of mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness-based practices into mainstream medicine and healthcare. He is also the author of numerous books and he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR).