I tend to trap myself in a constant planning mode. Always considering the what if’s and ways to plan ahead in order to mitigate potential not-so-ideal situations. This is good and bad. I have side stepped a few nasties being the eternal “project planner”, but the downfall is that I battle to get to the point of true relaxation. Accepting the as is without contemplating the to be.
To be in the moment became a conscious project (there we go again!) for me. I decided that I will make an effort to tune out the mind monkeys and BREATHE. My first moment of of success happened at a busy intersection where I have to patiently wait your turn to get into the packed line of traffic. I was second in line with the driver in front of me doing the frenetic Wimbledon head thing to negotiate his opportunity to turn into the busy line of traffic. In that moment, a deep sense of relaxation came over me, because I realised that I have NOTHING to do and NOTHING to plan. In that brief moment, I can allow myself to just be.
I have learnt about mindfulness from my friend, Christine Smith, and therefore asked her to write a brief overview for my blog. In my mind, she is a master at meditation but she also has deep knowledge of various body-mind disciplines.
Mindfulness – My personal understanding
By Christine Smith – Mindfulness Coach and Health Therapist
Contact number: +27 (0)82 377 5877
You would know you are mindful when the following definition rings true for you:
Mindfulness is the state of mental calmness achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and sensations without being judgemental or reactive to them.
The thing is, the definition consists of few simple, magical words, but how simple and magical is the reality of living the definition really?
Have you ever been at a beautiful spot in nature with fresh air and birds chirping – a blissful, peaceful experience of being fully content and one with it all? Well, that is the simplicity of being mindful and you have experienced the magic.
Have you ever been at a beautiful spot in nature with fresh air and birds chirping, but instead of having a blissful experience, you’ve had anxious thoughts about an important meeting the following day or have been sad about a break-up a year before? That is a beautiful example of being mindLESS and being everywhere except in the present.
Were those anxious and depressive thoughts helpful at the time?
Were you even aware that you had those thoughts and that you had the choice to not allow them to spoil your experience?
Lao Tzu would explain the above-mentioned possibilities as follows: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
The only place where happiness can be found is in the present moment. The well-known author, Eckart Tolle, has discovered this in a sudden moment and describes his insight in his book, The Power of Now. He was lucky to have awakened to this truth literally overnight, while normal people like me, must work at it every day.
Tolle’s advice is: “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it”.
My advice to achieving mindfulness, is to start with baby steps. Choose something that will work for you. For example, spend only five minutes in your garden everyday just noticing every flower, bird and dry twig as well as every thought popping up in your mind. Alternatively, if you spend long times in a car, try to focus with clear awareness on your steering wheel, the road, the other cars and especially your thoughts and emotions when another car does something outrageous. Accept and connect to your feelings instead of reacting to them. And try NOT to think too much.
Hoff said: “The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much.”
You will only ever know if mindfulness works if you try it!
Thich Nhat Hanh warns: “Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”
I don’t want to take the risk of lying on my deathbed one day knowing that I’ve missed out on being alive…