Authored by: Damaliah Gibson, Ph.D

In our relationships – familial, romantic, platonic, career/job-related –we learn to attend to the needs of others. Often, we are not as in tuned with our wants and needs or we ignore/override our desires for various reasons. Sometimes, we want to please a loved one or a supervisor.  We may put our needs on the backburner trying to show up for everyone else. And still, some of us think our wants and needs are of little importance and may have even been judged as selfish and self-indulgent when we attempted self-care.

Many of us wear many hats, we’re parents, spouses, siblings, workers, supervisors, and entrepreneurs. Navigating and attempting to balance our many roles make it challenging to find our way to mindfulness.

What is mindfulness and why is it so important anyway? For me, mindfulness is being in relationship with self. In my many years of mental health practice, I have found that mindfulness is an essential component for a more embodied way of being and living. Having a relationship with ourselves may be awkward at first if we are not used to being attuned to our needs. Awkward is completely normal and we can proceed toward a daily practice of mindfulness, which is accessible to everyone.

Mindfulness may look like trusting our intuition, our gut, taking moments throughout our day to have some quiet time and check in with our bodies, noticing our urges and needs. For example, a few hours before I sat to write this blog, I became aware that I was feeling overwhelmed about the mountain of tasks that needed my attention. I attempted to regulate my emotions –in this case, my panic and anxiety – by first taking some deep breaths, focused on my body and the physiological sensations that were happening in me, including a well of tears behind my eyes and a racing mind. I then found a quiet space away from my desk and computer, massaged my temples, drank some water, listened to some comforting lyrics, and continued to focus on taking long, deep breaths.

This was my way of practicing mindfulness and thus being able to check in and give myself what I needed at that moment. Looking back, I needed to create some space between myself and the source of overwhelm so that I could attend to myself and regroup. Once I gave myself what I needed I was able to make a plan for the rest of my day, including writing about and sharing my experience with you. I believe a relationship with myself is taking responsibility for how I show up in the world, and in my relationship with others. Without self-awareness and be it a mindful awareness, I cannot be in-tune with, and acknowledge my overwhelm and panic. I could end up in a cycle of projected my