Posted: by Jo Tuesday, 1 August 2017 @ 11:04
Many of us have heard or read about mindfulness, but I feel a lot of us simply pay lip service to it, thinking we are living our lives a little more mindfully than we used to. But understanding its techniques, practising them, and applying them to our daily lives, can have a real and lasting impact on our happiness.
So it is worth spending a bit of time understanding what mindfulness is, and what it brings.Mindfulness developed from Buddhist teachings, and, at its best, is a secularised interpretation of the Buddhist approach to living your life. Put simply, Buddhism encourages us to do three things:
1. To be aware of what we are doing, at each very moment –‘to be here now’
. Rather than getting lost in our memories of the past; our hopes for the future, or our expectations of the present.
2. To respond to, rather than react to, situations and circumstances. i.e. to have control and consideration over our response, rather than being at the mercy of a knee-jerk reaction.
3. To live our lives according to various codes of conduct, which can be summarised as: having compassion, feeling connected to others, and doing unto others as we would be done to.
These three practices will bring deeper happiness, fulfilment, calm and joy to your life. In order to keep our mind and our focus on the present moment, without slipping into thinking about the past or future; and in order to have control over our emotions and responses - we need to train our minds.
Most of us will find it very hard to stay focused on the present, or to pause before reacting - without some form of ‘mind training’.
Meditation is a great tool one can use to train one's mind, as it encourages us to practise deep focus. Staying focused on one's breath, when our mind wants to wander off; and continually and gently bringing our focus back - is what will eventually train our minds.
In this one month of August, we are not all going to become mindfulness experts overnight, being able to experience life vividly in the present, rather than living in our heads. But we do want everyone to have a go!
Read more about mindfulness (see our book recommendations here); start meditating for five or ten minutes a day, every day this month; download an app to help, if you like; take up yoga to give you a calmer space to focus; spend time each day outside, on your own, appreciating nature around you....
It doesn't matter which you do - just try something new this month to encourage your mind to stay in the present, rather than wandering. Then share your experiences with us, so we can see how you got on.
This month – ‘Be still, be present, be mindful’.