Mindfulness in my opinion is the underlying and core skill required to perceive yourself most accurately. The more mindful we are of everyday life and what is going on inside and outside of us and how this is affecting our physical actions, choices and life outcomes the more human mastery we have.
If you are lost in distraction, such as thoughts, then you are not attending fully to all that is going on and thus receive and process less data on reality. This is how people can get stuck in worries, stories and all sorts of narrow-minded perception. Not only does this mean you miss out on life, but it also limits your awareness of facts and the needs of any given moment.
If you have limited awareness and perception of the needs of yourself and environment, then its pretty tough going knowing how and being able to respond most appropriately in your environment. For example, as a student doctor I suffered imposter syndrome with lots of distracting worries and thoughts challenging my competence. This affected my ability to enjoy my everyday work life and notice the good moments, like shared connection with other people. It also limited my ability to dive into a state of free learning and discovery as it prevented me from focusing on tasks and held me back out of a fear of failure or judgement. So, if a senior asked me to examine a patient’s knee as a learning experience, rather than enjoying the privileged opportunity to learn from an experienced and willing teacher, I was overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings and distracting negative thoughts. I learnt and used mindfulness to live through this suffering. With time I noticed better this pattern and the opportunity to choose differently. By focusing on my breath as an anchor to the present moment and exit from my monkey mind and all its catastrophic stories I was able to redirect my attention to the tasks at hand. I simply noticed all that internal stuff, let it go and turned my attention back to my work. I engaged in work in a non-judgemental, sensory way. By letting go of the internal distraction, I was able to notice more around and outside of me. I improved my general awareness of my work environment and the needs of the situation both inside and out of me. I was better equipped to respond to problems as they arose. This has helped me perform in exams and as a leader. It has also allowed me to better self-care and meet my needs.
Using mindfulness to learn more about your invisible and overwhelmingly complicated internal world but also to notice things going on around you is a super-power. It truly is. It is the gateway to human mastery and the ability to know yourself, how you work and to learn how to manage yourself. Mindfulness is essential to developing one’s human mastery.