True Mindfulness

Three simple steps to lift your spirits.

Posted Jan 28, 2021

Mindfulness is big business. It is promoted by entrepreneurs and self-proclaimed gurus, as well as trained therapists and religious leaders.

What it is exactly is very broad, which is why anyone can claim title to teaching or selling it. A Hindu devotee's practice isn’t identical to deep-breathing exercises promoted by wellness experts.

While many profit-seekers and hucksters muddy the waters, there is something worthwhile in many mindfulness practices. At its base, mindfulness aims at self-awareness and self-care.

The assumption that a person must take care of themselves before taking care of others is mistaken. It is more accurate to say that we can’t take care of ourselves without paying attention to the needs of others. Nevertheless, reducing anxiety and general self-care are appropriate goals most of the time.

I found very helpful hints from the founders of Ajiri, which is devoted to helping women in Kenya through the sale of tea and coffee grown there. One hundred percent of the net profits of the company pay for school fees for orphans. Ajiri also supports several self-help women’s groups in Kenya.

In their recent newsletter, sisters Kate and Sara Holby summarize what has buoyed them through their eleven years of sustaining a small business, one not devoted to making themselves wealthy but a company designed to help women and children in Africa.

Here are their tips (they don’t label them "mindfulness," but I do):

1. Pinning all your hopes on one thing is dangerous. It isn’t “things will be better after the vaccine.” Rather it is finding hope in many things. Kate and Sara suggest creating your own experiences that you can look forward to in the near future.

2. Develop a daily gratitude routine. Say thank you for the big and small blessings in your life: for another day, for the loved ones in your life, for the food you eat. Being specific and regular in expressing these expressions of gratitude reminds us that this moment is precious.

3. Be generous, share. This can be a phone call, a donation, a gift, a smile, your time. An open hand is far better than a closed fist and hard heart. Sharing and generosity help create the relationships that sustain us.