Pam: I came to read about mindfulness very randomly. During a certain period, I found myself falling into anxiety and negative thinking more often than ever before. I started reading up on ways to combat them and one of the possible techniques suggested, which would come to help me gain some present moment awareness, was Mindfulness. What I liked the most while reading about this technique was that there is some scientific research supporting the whole method.
MiMo: Tell us about your experience in the MBSR program.
Pam: As a person who had never done meditation before, I knew this program was not only about meditation. It was clearly explained to us from the beginning that meditation would be a part of the program, and the main focus would be on bringing awareness to the body's physical sensations and the mind's thoughts through observing them and just letting them happen. During the 8-week MBSR program, we got to learn a full variety of mindfulness techniques, tried to be consistent with practice at home instead of just using them once a week in class, as well as developed more awareness of myself, my body and my feelings, and just letting things happen without engaging in further thinking. The sharing of experiences in class among the participants was very useful for everyone; it gave me other perspectives or another way of thinking about the overall experience, and the different ways of being mindful in my everyday life too.
MiMo: How has mindfulness contributed to your personal well-being?
Pam: I realized that the whole problem with my anxiety in my everyday life was because I didn’t let things just be; I would judge my thoughts, judge my decisions, and have my mind focusing too much on the future, without realizing that the present moment was all that I had in each moment. With mindfulness skills, I bring myself back to the present moment, then make my decisions from here and move on. I see myself appreciating things more than I used to, such as the small details of everyday life, nature and each moment of my breath.
MiMo: How has mindfulness supported you in your professional work?
Pam: With my mind clearer, I make better decisions. I have less anxiety and I have learned that there is another approach to every problem. I have learned how to appreciate my well-being and happiness even more. In the case of any unenjoyable emotions or feelings, I would not judge or try to avoid them, but just observe them as they are, and put a small buffer between the negativity and my emotions and reactions. I have learned how to better approach stressful situations too.
MiMo: How have you incorporated mindfulness into your daily life?
Pam: I use simple techniques such as taking a deep breath and placing a light touch of attention on my body to bring myself back to the present moment. I try to break the stress reaction cycle by not getting captivated by my own emotions. I do not practice mindfulness for the same amount of time as I had learned to during the MBSR program, but I do continue with sitting practice or paying attention to the physical movements and my body responses when I do sports.
MiMo: Any words of advice for people who are thinking about learning mindfulness?
Pam: What I have learned about mindfulness is that it doesn’t encourage you to escape from stressful situations, nor make you forget them; on the contrary, it teaches you to observe the stressful feelings in that moment. Just letting things be and accepting things the way they are. It is a very nice gift you can give to yourself and your well-being. Your future self will absolutely appreciate it.
About Pamela Qafoku
Hailing from Albania, Pamela is currently living and working in Singapore. She works as a marketing executive at an MNC in the Logistics and Supply Chain industry. She holds an Msc in Marketing Analytics and Management. Pamela has always been curious about learning and keen to know and understand different cultures, which was one of the reasons that brought her to Singapore. She has been volunteering at different NGOs and giving support to different causes. Being kind and polite to one another is her motto in life.