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There are a lot of ways mindfulness can be explained and a lot of things that mindfulness brings into your life

 

But the most compact way is by saying mindfulness (watch the video version here) brings you in the here and now. This sounds very abstract as I can imagine.

How can you be in the moment?

 

The easiest way to do that is by being aware of your senses: touch, smell, sight, sound, taste. You can’t taste your breakfast from yesterday anymore. Your mind can recall the memory, but it can’t relive the experience. An experience is felt by bodily sensations and those are only felt in the here and now.

Touch your clothes, focus on the sounds around you, look at the space you are in. This is what defines this moment. Now you are in the here and now.

Mindfulness can help your mind to focus on the here and now. 

Our mind is not wired for that. This is very important to understand. It is not you. It is not you who isn’t able to concentrate. This is the case for every mind. In mindfulness they call it the monkey mind.

The mind is made to solve problems, more specific, practical problems. It will solve them or it will remind you about all the problems that aren’t solved. That’s the reason why you keep thinking about your problems, unfinished to do lists, worries…

Sadly, it will apply the same rule for emotional problems. These kind of problems can’t be solved just by thinking practical about them. They need time and they need space. Two things the mind doesn’t like. See where this is going?

So, it is crucial to train our mind to not always play the first violin. It’s better to not give it so much power.

Think about this: There will always be unresolved issues in your life. So you got the choice for either think about them and always stay in your head, or you choose to not think about them all the time and enjoy the here and now while it’s happening. 

The majority of the time you are doing just fine. In this moment you are fine. So let’s assume that it will stay that way and get into our experience right now. Our minds wants certainty. But there is no such thing.

We can’t stop our mind from doing or wanting this.

What we can do is retrain ourselves to choose where our attention will go.

 

When you practice mindfulness meditation, that is what you are doing. Learning to concentrate on what you are focusing on. And when your mind is wondering, keep bringing it back to your focus point. An thankful focus point is our breath. Your breath says a lot about your stress level. It can tell you if you are stressed or not. Besides it is something you always carry with you, so you can always fall back on it to monitor stress relief. 

I like to use the metaphor of a car coming down the street. When this happens, you notice the car and you just let it pass by. You won’t jump in front of the car to stop it, nor will you jump into it. You allow it to pass. This is how you look at thoughts that you don’t want to follow. No fighting, no changing, just allowing.

The first phase of mindfulness is always learning to concentrate.

Then when you are able to concentrate more, that where phase two kicks in. Your mind is now much more quiet. And it looks like this glass with mud or sand where you kept stirring into. Now you learned to stop stirring, and guess what, the mud and sand is coming down and the water is clear.

Clarity. You start having insights about you and your life. And that’s where the fun part is. Now you learn new things about yourself because you can hear your intuition. It was there all along, but because of the chatter in the mind, you couldn’t hear it.

Be patient. Learning to be mindful is learning a new habit. It takes time and practice. 

 

So, how do you get started?

 

There are two types of exercises: formal and informal. Formal are the meditations, it is something that you add to your day that wasn’t there before. Informal means that you do activities you already do in a mindful way. For example driving, showering, dishwashing,…

Formal exercise are the core. They really get you into the habit. Start easy, let’s say 5 or 10 minutes a day. Do it when you just woke up or right before bed. It is easier to create a habit this way.

 

After a while, you can add informal exercise by picking one activity that you want to do mindful that day. Let’s say showering. Focus on your senses when you do this. Be in the moment. That’s all you need to do.

To add on, if you are more mindful about your senses, then you will ruminate much less. Which leads to more positive thoughts and at their turn provoke pleasant emotions. This helps you to feel more joy on a regular basis! Isn’t that amazing? 

Mindfulness meditation can support you in getting to know yourself better and making the right decisions in your life.

In the here and now, happiness is to be found

When get more experienced, you can add the Breathing break. This is a very short meditation, used to tune into your body. To know how you are feeling and what you need to keep your energy level up. I added the link to this meditation at the bottom of this post. Just as the first meditation to start with, the Focused breathing meditation. 

I would like to add some literature as well. It really helps you to soak up the philosophy of mindfulness and practice it in your life.

The most important thing is to practice. 

 

When you know a lot, but don’t apply anything, nothing will really change. When you apply what you know, everything will change. 

 

 

Information to get you started:

Link to the Breathing break: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMM6ZAfDT4E

Link to Focused breathing meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSfhtBElbTA

For books: The power of now – Eckhart Tolle, Mindfulness – Mark Williams, The mindfulness solution – Ronald Siegel

Picture by Lesley Guarez

 

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