Do you ever have the feeling that you were brought into this world and someone forgot to provide you with the operators manual for your mind? Some days the world looks wonderful, the next you just want curl up into a ball. Most days your mind just keeps running and you hope that your mind’s fuel tank will run out of fuel so that you can have a few moments of peace. You find that you are heading from one disaster to another and your steering wheel of life just won’t respond to your input. Are you inadvertently infecting your co workers with your stress at work and so exacerbating the cycle for you and others around you? Are you also therefore increasing your risk of having a workplace incident or accident because your mind is full and you are not being mindful?
How do we create change ? How can you find your operators manual for your mind and get off that wild roller coaster ride? There is no one correct answer but with diligent practice, as with every new skill we attempt to acquire, we can begin to get a handle on how our mind works and become the driver of our mind and not just the passenger.
You might be asking ..What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the process of trying to be aware, in an accepting and non judgemental way, of what you’re thinking about, what you’re feeling, and what your body is up to. Mindfulness allows you to be present and aware of what’s on your mind, without identifying quite as strongly with the stories you habitually tell yourself and without needing to change anything about the experience you’re actually having. I’m not saying that you should be free of thought, but that you have the freedom to have your thoughts along with a big scoop of peace of mind. You will find yourself responding far more calmly in situations and your thinking will be clearer and you will be less distracted by your thoughts.
Can your thoughts be just on the present moment? We all have the ability to focus our attention on what’s happening in the present moment, here in the NOW, and that when we achieve this the mind quietens down and becomes calm. Our lives can only be in the NOW but we tend to spend all of our time in the past or in the future , therefore missing the moment we are in. Contemplating the past and the future also happens to be where most of our stressful thoughts arise. What’s happening right now, what we are doing or working on RIGHT NOW is likely to be far less stressful and requires your full attention.
In my next few articles we will delve deeper into mindfulness and how we can practice on implementing changes in our lives. Let’s start with something really simple so you can start practicing mindfulness.
Many people that I speak to don’t know how to meditate or think that they can’t. That it’s all about sitting down in some weird position and chanting a word or phrase or making some weird throat noises. Well it could be for some but it doesn’t need to be.I guess we should use the word Silent awareness because that is what it really is. You become aware and you become silent. Silent within yourself. The external world can still be noisy but you let that wash over you and you become still. You don’t concentrate on anything because concentration brings about tension, tension in your breathing, tension in your body. Just become aware…of the breeze on your face, the sound of the car going down the road, the lawnmower in the background…but don’t focus on it, just be aware.
You will become aware of your breath, and the deepening of your breath and the stillness increases. Sit quietly and simply observe your thoughts , emotions and physical sensations, let them go. You can watch those thoughts but don’t focus on them..they are just like the car driving down the street. When a negative or unpleasant event pops up, observe it and observe your response to the event. Be mindful to how you are feeling emotionally and physically but don’t attach to it…Let it go. The same goes for pleasant thoughts…..observe yourself and your response and let it go. It’s like you are watching yourself on a television screen, you don’t become involved you just watch. Mindfulness encourages you to be intentionally aware of the thoughts and physical sensations that arise whenever possible and to just accept them as mental energy that arises and then as quickly moves on.
You can bring about this silent awareness wherever you are. You can walk to a meeting at work and be in awareness. You are aware of every step, how your heel touches the pavement, how your skin feels in the sun, how your body moves. The most precious times are those when you can be in touch with yourself. Everything melts away and yet you become acutely aware that you are a part of everything.