Finding out I was 4 months pregnant at the age of 17 was difficult to say the least, but I have never been one to avoid challenges in life. The seemingly unbearable gravity of this news weighed on me. I knew I did not want to feel like this anymore, but I had no idea how to help myself. So, one night I escaped to my local bookstore, looking for answers the only way I know how. I walked past the “Self-Help” section a few times, not wanting to be that person. Finally, I worked up the courage, realizing there is no shame in wanting to feel better. I scanned the shelves hoping to find a step-by-step guide for coping with an unexpected pregnancy at a young age with no such luck, but book after book on mindfulness caught my eye. I had read a little bit about mindfulness, but only in passing. I was entirely unaware of the immense benefits the practice of mindfulness holds for anyone willing to try.
Mindfulness is essentially the practice of keeping your attention on the present moment. It seems like a simple task, but practicing mindfulness requires complete rewiring of our brains which seemingly never cease thinking. How often do you arrive at your destination and realize you do not even remember the drive there? Our minds are not meant to take us over in this sense. They are intended to simply be tools for our use. They are not meant to produce endless stream of thoughts. The issue with continual thinking is most of the thoughts we have revolve around the past or future, but nothing that has happened or will happen matters because all there is is right now.
Practicing mindfulness requires keeping your attention on the present. Focus on your breath, the sounds you hear, and the sights you see. Being aware of the present cultivates gratitude. When I began practicing mindfulness during my pregnancy, a seemingly impossible situation became entirely manageable. All of the anxiety and sadness I had been experiencing were due to my incessant thinking of the past or future, but when I began to keep my attention on the present moment, I realized how blessed I was.
The way I view mindfulness is almost as if you’re channeling your inner child. Children view the world with fresh eyes. When they see a tree there is not a past memory of when they fell out of one and broke their leg, but rather they simply see the beauty. Mindfulness is like that. It is staying present and accepting situations when they come and as they are. Mindfulness is receiving circumstances instead of labeling them “bad” or “good”. Practicing mindfulness helped me remain positive during a seemingly negative situation and it has helped me everyday since that night I curled up beneath the “Self-Help” shelves–a girl with new life growing inside her, no longer afraid of the uncertainty before her.