Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Mindfulness = the moment before hitting a tennis ball. - me
Mindfulness appears to be one of the new words that have been on the rise in all self-care and self-help literature, and it grew its popularity even more during the pandemic. I don't remember how I found the world myself and what attracted me to it. It may have very much been a groupthink that I am not even aware of. I started exploring Mindfulness along with the start of my meditation practice sometime in 2018. Last fall, I also took a Stanford Class named "Mindfulness for Life and Leadership" and have read several books on Mindfulness. Some of my favorite ones are written by Thich Nhat Hanh. If you want to dive into Mindfulness, I highly recommend looking into some of his books and teachings.
"Our own life has to be our message." Thich Nhat Hanh
Despite me studying and learning about Mindfulness, I had a hard time comprehending what Mindfulness is. I felt like I got it, and at the same time, I felt like I am missing something - don't fully understand it. So I kept pondering about it and kept trying to find the state of Mindfulness, thinking about what it means to live my life mindfully. Then one day, I had an epiphany. I don't exactly remember when I had the thought, but I suddenly felt that I finally got it. Something clicked, and I sensed that I understood what being mindful means and how it feels. As always, it made sense to me when I translated it into tennis.
In tennis, there are these short blissful moments. They typically happen before you serve or return your opponent's serve. One is getting ready to execute a stroke, and at the moment, you try to clear your head. You get yourself into a state of absolute nothingness and, at the same time, a complete presence. It is a state of peace and calmness right before you hit the ball. I typically feel I have a half-smile on my face, and it feels like time doesn't exist at the moment. The body is relaxed and ready at the same time. It may almost feel like one is floating. It feels like there is only me, the ball, and the game itself. It is a state of peace, calmness, and grace. It is a state of freedom when one just is.
This is the best way I could describe the feeling. I am not sure if my analogy makes sense for you, as I find it somewhat hard to describe in words. Feel free to comment below about your understanding of Mindfulness and your journey with it. I also believe that this analogy carries over to all other sports, and so if you have experience playing other sports, it might be helpful for you to translate this moment into your sport. Since that day, I understand Mindfulness just a bit more, and I can bring myself into a mindfulness state more often. My practice focuses more on building habits and routines that help me be in a mental state of Mindfulness and maintain it for a longer time.
Thich Nhat Hanh and Mindfulness: "To be Mindful is to be fully alive and present with the people around you. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that mindfulness should be practiced during all of your activities throughout the day, whether you're working, driving, walking, eating or interacting with others."
Another definition comes from Jon Kabat Zinn, who enjoys significant global renown for his work on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): “The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
According to the American Psychological Association (APA.org, 2012), mindfulness is: “…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “[Mindfulness is] the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Dictionary.com: “[Mindfulness is] the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something.”