Mindfulness Instead of Mindlessness
I just said to a close friend that when I left my office yesterday and arrived home I really wasn’t sure how I got there. I would venture to say, many of us go through our day-to-day actions on autopilot not really being aware of what is happening around us or even to us. In this technology driven world it can be very challenging to really be present in what we are doing because we are always thinking about the future or thinking about what we did three hours ago and very rarely are in the present moment. These are not ingredients for living the most effective life and for a healthy and happy one either.
So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is actually a change in thought process. It is a more centered way of thinking. It is being more intentional about what we are doing, who we are communicating with, paying more attention to where we are and what we are experiencing in this very moment. It is about quieting our mind. Mindfulness is a state of being. Being more aware of self and paying more attention on purpose. And another way it has been presented to me – let go and let live. When we get caught up in a mad rush, worrying and are anxiety driven because of time constraints and trying to figure out the end result before what we have set in motion even has an opportunity to play out, we are effectively absent from our body.
Being mindful allows us to find meaning and derive fulfillment in all those little areas of life that are fundamental to each of us. It impacts our value system, how we see others – being less judgmental, our relationships, specifically conversations with those around us who we work closely with each day, and those closest to us. In its simplest forms, being mindful helps us enjoy life better. The food we are eating tastes better. The air we breathe smells better. And when we are with colleagues and friends we hear more of what they are saying and our accomplishments are less restrictive and more about the difference we are making in other’s lives and in our own.
When we are so preoccupied with everything around us, not present, we tend to zone out and not pay as much attention to what we are really trying to accomplish in the moment. In high stress type situations where we are moving so fast we are not giving 100 percent, specifically not listening can cause us to fail. When we really practice mindfulness the results can be life changing. Instead of being overwhelmed with life we actually manage it more effectively.
At St. Aloysius Orphanage we have 17 different programs anywhere from outpatient services, partial hospitalization, home based trauma therapy, educational services, foster care, integrated health services and the list goes on. We are an education and treatment center for behavioral health. In order for us to better care and serve the children, adults and families in our community we must be caring for ourselves as well. So a decision was made that in order for us to be the most effective we can be in our work we must have greater mindfulness of the world around us, specifically our clients who we care for each day. When we practice being more mindful in our daily living we are more mindful of the needs of our children and we can help them and serve them even more. So we decided to adopt a program “The Sanctuary Model.” In doing so, we provide not only a more safe, secure and trauma-informed environment for the people who are in our charge to help heal and grow each day but also a positive, open and safe environment for all of our colleagues as well.
To learn more about St. Aloysius Orphanage or to speak with Thomas Courtney, St. Aloysius’ Chief People Person, contact him at 513.242.7600 ext. 4308, email TCourtney@stalsorphanage.org or visit their website at www.staloysiuscincinnati.org.