As a species, we often have a tendency to ruminate on the past or be fearful of the future. So when an opportunity presents itself for us to be self-aware – i.e. to focus on the present – suddenly we see the world with a very different set of eyes.
This is where mindfulness comes into the fray.
When we decide to be mindful, suddenly the dark hues of our lives are illuminated.
Suddenly the world starts to spin on a slightly different axis.
And suddenly our lives start to seem that much better.
So instead of worrying about what was or what will soon come to pass, why not instead be nostalgic of everything that was and hopeful about all the things that could be.
If you decide to be mindful, this way of experiencing life can suddenly become a reality.
Deriving from the ancient Buddhist philosophy on the benefits of meditation, Mindfulness has been similarly proven to be as effective within modern psychotherapy as a form of mental cleansing.
Being mindful is a way for us to be honest, open, happy, patient and self-aware.
It’s a necessary state of mind that truly is God’s gift.
So, how can you be mindful?
- Watch your thoughts
There’s a quote from Professor Mark Williams – of the Oxford Mindfulness centre – in which he states:
“Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they’re doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in. It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn’t about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events.
Imagine standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible.”
In circumstances such as these, the good doctor also recommends, for instance, an exercise in yoga or some other physical activity.
- Free yourself from the past and future
This goes without saying, but having a consistent focus on the present is the only way to achieve a ‘focused’ state of mindfulness.
- Notice the everyday
As a follow-up, this next point is where the focus of this article really lies.
To quote the good doctor:
“Even as we go about our daily lives, we can notice the sensations of things, the food we eat, the air moving past the body as we walk. All this may sound very small, but it has huge power to interrupt the ‘autopilot’ mode we often engage day to day, and to give us new perspectives on life.”
It’s entirely up to you whether or not you decide to apply any of this in practice, but as a lesson on the topic of mindfulness, I hope what’s been written here will be of some use to you in the future…
Or should I say, the here and now.
By Lee Thorneycroft.