The Truth About Mindfulness
Mindfulness originated in Buddhism but has been popularised as a modern practise in Western civilisation. While there are mindfulness meditations available, it is not simply meditation. The truth is that Mindfulness can enrich your life. The best thing is anyone can do it - if they choose to. In this blog I’ll be sharing some truths about what Mindfulness is and debunking some myths about what it isn’t. I won’t go into too much detail as that would take an entire book. However, I shall come back to the topic of Mindfulness in future posts.
Do You Mind?
The human mind is probably best likened to a wild horse. It’s got tremendous energy and strength. But it runs amok and can be difficult to control. It runs in all directions. Another way of looking at it is a big bowl of spaghetti. It looks like a jumbled mess. The good news is, like the spaghetti, you can untangle it. Who knows by doing so you may end up with a pleasant surprise.
(I wanted the classic picture from Lady And The Tramp here but couldn't find it to legally use)
How many times have you been on a car journey, arrived at your destination and not been able to recall a single element of your journey? How many times do you do the ironing while watching telly? Do you sit down for a cuppa only to find you’re holding an empty cup? Do you remember drinking it?
MINDFULNESS TRUTH #1
Mindfulness is moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, experiences and environment. This means we’re recognising things as they come up. We are not getting caught up in them. The main ingredient is the present moment. You focus on what you’re experiencing at the moment. You don’t focus on the past or the future. Now is all we have.
MINDFULNESS MYTH #1
Mindfulness is not emptying the mind. Mindfulness is not stopping thinking. The brain doesn’t have an off switch! Thoughts are always going to arise no matter how much of a mindfulness expert you become. The whole idea, as mentioned in TRUTH #1 is to appreciate what’s in front of you right now.
To give you a very quick practical idea of what mindfulness is try the following.
Sit at a table and place a small object in front of you.
Look closely at the object for a few minutes. Take in everything you can see. Don’t touch it. Just think about what it looks like without judging its usefulness or good looks!
Keeping still, close your eyes and be aware of any physical sensations. These are the places where your body touches your clothes. It’s also where you feel the gravity on the chair or floor.
Focus on what you can hear. Maybe it’s just your own breathing you can hear. Or maybe you can hear a distant radio or plane.
Reflect on what you’ve just experienced. By focussing on the object, then what you feel, then what you hear, you’ve taken a break from preoccupied things.
MINDFULNESS TRUTH #2
Mindfulness gives you an opportunity to identify with who you are. It gives you a chance to find out what your full potential is. You gain self-understanding.
MINDFULNESS MYTH #2
Mindfulness is not an escape from personality. It’s quite the opposite. In fact as explained above, it can reveal our personality.
LOSE THE JUDGEMENT
Part of the Mindfulness journey is getting rid of judgements. Let’s say that you get very good at being aware. You observe things in the now. This is great, but how often do you add a judgement to something, or someone? Take a look at the following examples and see if there’s anything you can do to stop them from happening.
OBSERVATION - There’s a crystal vase on the table
JUDGEMENT - It looks very expensive
OBSERVATION - I can smell flowers
JUDGEMENT - I must have left a window open
OBSERVATION - I’m a little stiff in my shoulders
JUDGEMENT - I better see a masseuse
OBSERVATION - That dog was whining
JUDGEMENT - I wonder if it needs feeding
Mindfulness is not about reacting to a situation. Mindfulness is about acknowledging it. Of course, there are times that a reaction is necessary. The time to react is when you’re planning to do so. If you’re planning on being mindful, no reaction is necessary. Just observation.
MINDFULNESS TRUTH #3
Mindfulness is a practise. It’s a process. It’s not like learning to swim. You don’t become perfect at mindfulness. It’s mindfulness practise not mindfulness perfect. Mindfulness can, and perhaps should, become a part of your everyday life. But this doesn’t mean that you become a mindfulness Master. You simply discover new things about yourself.
MINDFULNESS MYTH #3
Mindfulness is not a way for living life without a plan. You plan in a mindful way. In the same way you can learn from the past in a mindful way.
I hope this gives you some insight into mindfulness. Maybe it will encourage you to try some exercises for yourself. We have two meditation albums available which encourage some form of mindfulness. Keep your eyes open for future posts and courses in mindfulness. We will be releasing our own mindfulness challenge early in 2021.
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most” Buddha