The older I get, the more aware I am of the importance of mindfulness in meeting life with my head switched on, literally. The concept provides a focus for a way of dealing with and getting through what life has yet to offer.

Young minds think they will live forever and are too busy sorting out options and making life-shaping decisions rather than being mindful of the gifts and challenges of the present. It is an insight that leaves me wishing I knew back then what I’ve come to know I need now.

Mindfulness is simply being conscious of and responsive to important dimensions of the present moment. However, such awareness is too often sabotaged by the busy-ness of living and human frailty and failings.

Consciousness of context, concern for others and even taking care of self require constant mindfulness. But to be effectively used, such awareness also requires acceptance and determination.

Acceptance, more than tolerance, embraces the truths of one’s awareness in order to clarify and exercise its power and obligations.

Acceptance needs both courage and consistency: courage to meet and manage whatever life sends one’s way and consistency in dealing with it. It does not mean liking or welcoming life’s challenges but realizing those challenges need to be faced and dealt with. “Putting up with” or simply “letting be” is rarely mindful. If anything, passivity poisons the spirit of mindfulness.

Determination is mindfulness alive and working. Even when one’s choices come up short or prove blatantly wrong, determination is what will move one through their consequences eventually.

Choices can fail or succeed, but at least when proactive they have the energy to move one through even life’s toughest turnings. Mindful choices can control and manage and enrich one’s life. But sabotage is always a factor. That’s why determination is so important.

Mindfulness is not easy to come by. It takes growth, vulnerability and often another’s help. Putting words to what is happening inside one’s self is critical to achieving awareness.

Asking for help is often the first step toward acceptance. And one’s determination is essential for “getting through” – a phrase worthy of being a mantra for mindfulness.

One of the many lessons I’ve learned is that one needs “to go through what one is going through to get through.” I am also learning that mindfulness lights and often lightens the way.