We always say that life is a journey, and here at Love, Bonito, we’re committed to journeying together with you — wherever you are, and whatever stage of life you’re at. And that includes all the ups, downs and in-betweens. But let’s be honest, it can be a little overwhelming at times. While life demands more and more of us, there is also an increasing focus on holistic well-being — not just being physically healthy, but emotionally and mentally as well.
Enter, Mindfulness: the buzzword of 2019 (and with good reason). But what does mindfulness mean, and what does it actually look like in practice?
We decided to invite Erin Lee, Founder and Mindfulness Coach of Mindful Moments Singapore to give us a run-down on why mindfulness is a skill every woman should have, and to give us a taste of what the practice could do for our everyday lives.
Dive in for a quick read!
Over the years of teaching the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, I have generally gotten more women than men as participants in my classes. I have come to realize that women do need mindfulness, not because we are less mindful than men, but because we are complex beings. We multitask more often and experience more stress, we take on more roles in life, and we generally care and worry more about the future. But more importantly, we recognize that mindfulness can greatly support us in becoming a better version of ourselves.
Research also suggests that mindfulness benefits women more than men, including reports on a decrease in negative emotions, and an increase in self-compassion. Women can find great empowerment in the practice of mindfulness — a moment-by-moment awareness of our external environment and internal states — because it allows us to rest our attention on a single task, observe ourselves non-judgmentally, create space for ourselves, and skillfully regulate our emotions.
1. Becoming Less Carried Away by Our Thoughts
Because of our intrinsic capacity to nurture and care, women tend to feel anxious about what is going to happen in the future, and if we are not mindful we may frequently find ourselves caught in a web of worries and ruminations. Through mindfulness, we can become more aware of the thoughts and emotions that arise in our mind and body, without suppressing them or pushing them away. We recognize thoughts that may not be healthy for our wellbeing and learn not to further engage in them. We can create a gentle space between ourselves and those thoughts, and learn that the thoughts we have do not shape or define who we are.
2. Reducing Self-Judgment
Do you often find yourself slipping into self-criticism? Blaming and judging yourself unfairly or feeling unnecessarily guilty when things go wrong? The practice of mindfulness helps us to look more deeply into these states of mind and to take a step back from the self-debilitating criticisms. Through that, we learn to offer ourselves more gentleness and kindness in the process of inner observation and reflection.
3. Re-Examining Our Roles
It’s no secret that women take on a myriad of roles. We can be a partner, a parent, a breadwinner, a housewife, a sibling, a friend, a coworker, a leader, an entrepreneur, an activist and a peacemaker — some times all at once.
All these responsibilities can take a toll on our physical health and mental wellness, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. Having mindful awareness of ourselves can help us re-examine the different hats we wear in life and learn to prioritize and focus on where our attention is most needed at any point in time.
4. Taking Care of Ourselves
If there’s anything that women are probably not doing enough of, it is taking good care of themselves. With so many expectations placed on us by our families, workplace and society, we often feel compelled to fulfil these expectations rather than learn to attend to our own needs. When was the last time we rewarded ourselves with a much-needed break, chose a healthier lifestyle, or indulged in a hobby that nourishes us? A mindful woman understands the importance of a healthy mind and body and skillfully navigates the vicissitudes of life, and has no qualms about regularly claiming back her time for rest and rejuvenation.
5. Taking Care of Others
With the ability to take care of ourselves, comes the capacity to take care of others. Women who are mindfully aware of their internal states and behaviours tend to be able to observe their external surroundings and the people around them with more openness and curiosity and show more empathy and connection with others. Practising mindfulness allows us to work with our own emotions to become better communicators and enhance our relationships with the people we care about.
About the Author:
Erin Lee is Founder and Mindfulness Coach of Mindful Moments Singapore. She is a Certified MBSR Teacher as acknowledged by the Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute (MBPTI) of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Center for Mindfulness to conduct and deliver the classic Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program. Erin completed the UCSD School of Medicine’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teacher Training Intensive as well as Advanced Teacher Training Intensive for MBSR and MBCT Teachers in California. Erin is trained to teach the .b mindfulness program to teenagers and young adults as recognized by the Mindfulness in Schools Project. Erin holds a Masters of Science degree in Studies in Mindfulness with the University of Aberdeen, UK. Erin also conducts mindfulness training for corporate clients and organizations, and is an experienced polytechnic lecturer.