Do you spend most of your time on autopilot? Welcome to the club. It’s something we all do at some time in life.
Making plans, thinking about the future, trying to complete our To-Do lists. We’re so busy rushing towards the future and some wonderful event more exciting than the present moment, we forget to really live. Many great experiences in the here and now are missed in the chaos of life the present moment is an obstacle between now, and the best bits of life. We don’t even realise, we could already be there.
How often have you walked or driven somewhere, and not remembered the journey? Or eaten your favourite meal without tasting a single bite or savouring any of its delicious flavours. Mindfulness or being present is the fastest way to live life more fully with happiness and wisdom. It simply involves moment to moment awareness of what is happening now, both inside and outside. Internally we become more aware of our body and our mind, while externally we begin to broaden our awareness so we notice what’s really happening in the external environment.
One way to experience present moment awareness, is to just to STOP for no more than a minute and be totally aware of what is happening right now.
• Be aware of your mental state, whether you’re feeling happy, worried or frustrated. Just notice this mental state without judgment or wishing you were feeling something different.
• Try to rest your mind in a state of non-thought, or if a thought comes, just watch it pass without letting your mind get caught up in it. Really start to get a sense of what it means to be in the present moment…
• Let your mind become curious like a new born child, take in your experiences and surroundings as if you have never heard, smelt, tasted or seen them before. Feel a sense of wonderment in what you are experiencing.
Notice how time seems to slow down the more you keep your mind in the present moment, and how peace creeps in as your thoughts begin to subside. Now imagine experiencing each moment fully, and how much time you will suddenly seem to have in your day if you are able to practice this moment to moment awareness continuously.
Mindfulness is not just about feeling happy all the time though. It also helps us to deal with troubling situations too. If we learn to notice everything going on, we can begin to see our problems in a different way, by breaking them down without very much effort-often finding they aren’t as big as we first thought. But, if we’re overwhelmed with negative emotions it’s virtually impossible to see anything differently. With Mindfulness practice we create a distance between ourself and the emotion – that’s how we learn to see it differently.
Here’s an example: Something bad happened to us and we’re furious about it. But by distancing ourself from that emotion through Mindfulness, we realise it isn’t ‘my anger’ anymore. Instead of owning that anger, we learn to see it as just ‘being angry’. We no longer think ‘I am so angry!’ instead we can say to ourselves more calmly, ‘I am experiencing anger but I know this will soon pass.’
Practicing mindfulness has many great health benefits including reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. Being free from all of this is guaranteed to bring the Joy back into our lives.
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