Can you achieve mindfulness?

February 4, 2016

It is like we are on a hamster wheel with no end to the incessant turning in sight

Photo: Carina Krammer

All we really have is this moment, this moment that I am typing on my laptop to you and you are reading these words of mine. Everything else is a fabrication of our minds—memories of the past, future projections, the mind gallivanting around wherever it so chooses. Most of us live in a constant state of nowhere land.

To be fully present in your life is to settle down with full focus and attention into each moment of your life as it occurs. This is mindfulness—to cast aside all judgmental forms of thinking, whether it is directed at yourself or at others in and around your life.

How a monk achieved mindfulness
I was watching a video of a monk explaining how he has chosen to live each moment of his life in a state of mindful awareness. He visualises his thoughts as seeds that grow trees, and from these trees he can grow many things—worries, self-doubt, anger, jealousy, frustration, greed…the list is endless. By actively choosing to not give these negative thoughts any energy when they appear in his mind, he actively supresses their growth and they remain inactive.

He told of how he was practicing a walking meditation with his fellow monks and as they were in the middle of their walk he spotted a car advancing down the road towards them from a fair distance away. He acknowledged the many varied thoughts that suddenly were whizzing around his mind….

          ‘Who is driving the car?’

          ‘Do they not know driving is not allowed here in the   monastery surrounds?’

          ‘How am I supposed to meditate when I can see a car that is not supposed to be here?’

         ‘I wonder what type of car it is?’ etc.

It was at this precise point in time that he decided to take control of his mind and tell himself that he was enjoying the meditation walk and that the car did not matter at all.

He then proceeded to be fully involved in walking and all of his previous mind crafted worries faded to nothing. He watched his feet caressing the leafy ground and was focused on his walking motion. He became grateful that it was a sunny day and he could feel the warmth of the sun on his body.

Giving his mind a rest, he embraced the tranquillity of being in each moment without the stress of endless self-inflicted questioning.

You don’t have to be a monk to think this way. Each one of us holds within the power to live mindfully. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes. Your breathing steadies, you gain clarity of thought and senses sharpen as they hone in on the here and now and only the here and now.

How to begin right now

1) Become aware of how you are feeling, the air on your skin, if you are feeling comfortable enough as you read these words, the sounds you are hearing as you read. If you are eating or drinking, take time to truly taste each mouthful, think about how the food makes you feel.

2) Enjoy the sensation of breathing in, then focus full attention on exhalation. It is so good to give the mind a break from all of the endless chatter that we put it through each day and night.

3) Pause for a few moments, instead of rushing to fill your time by checking Facebook or your emails—stop and look around you.
If you are near a window take a few minutes to watch and see what is occurring through it. Can you see trees outside? If so, focus your mind on the tree, this is time for you to connect and not rush.

Notice how your body feels, do you have any tense areas, if you sense them, acknowledge them and roll your shoulders, ease the tension. Once again, as you breathe in, experience the breath, as you breathe out, enjoy the movement of air from your lungs out through your nostrils.

Pause the wheel
When we are distracted and in a constant rush, we let life zoom by and before you know it, it is like we are on a hamster wheel with no end to the incessant turning in sight. Mindfulness lets us pause that wheel, it gives us a mind vacation.

Next week will come, next month will come, and next year will soon be here. Let us all choose to enjoy the now. To focus mind and not wander off into creating those seemingly endless worries and energy draining what ifs. To listen and enjoy, to watch and observe.

When you decide to give mindfulness a go, it is uplifting and time seems to not frantically dwindle away as it once did before. You cease the endless rush and become part of the natural rhythm of life, savouring each fresh moment instead of wishing yourself into the next one.

I wish you joy and hope that you give yourself the profoundly life changing gift of mindfulness.

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