Have you ever stopped to wonder where the peace of mind and happiness that you exuded as a kid went? Well, you spent so much of your time being mindful, you just did not know what mindlessness was back then.
Mindlessness is automatic pilot and mindfulness is being fully present in the present moment!
You were so mindful and present that you are unaware of time, homework, the “urgent need’ to tidy your room or you mum calling you in for dinner!
The joy of mindfulness is being able to allow ourselves to simply be FOCUSED in the present moment in whatever it is we are doing, seeing, feeling or experiencing in any way. Our MIND is so FULL of the PRESENT MOMENT, we don’t have room to judge it so we naturally accept it.
We are all naturally mindful beings, we just developed another way of being in the world to cope with the vast amount of information in every moment we have access to and have to process through the availability of technology.
Just take a moment to think back to a time of joy as a child, perhaps playing with your friends, reading your favourite book, sometime when you could fully focus on what you were doing oblivious to whatever else was going on around you. That one pointed focus meant you had no room for worry, anxiety, stress, planning the future, feeling a hurt from the past.
And so mindfulness offers us the ability to let go of unhelpful thoughts of feelings in any given moment and if we keep having those mindful moments we develop new mindful habits.
The brain needs repetition to build new habits, so if we keep practising mindfulness we will build new habits in our brain and this will give us a new way of thinking and being. One which enables us to share the joy of that moment.
When my children were going up, many summers we used to travel around Europe with a car, a tent and a map. We had so many adventures I cannot begin to tell you! However, when in they reached their early twenties and we would talk around the dinner table, I realised one day that there were a lot of these adventures which they remembered vividly I had forgotten!
That’s when I realised that I had not been fully present in the moment to enjoy all we were experiencing. I had been thinking about where to go to next, how to get there, had we left anything behind in the previous campsite, where would we shop for supplies etc. In other words, I was constantly planning and thinking, and so missed many happy mindful moments of being in the now!
When we practise mindfulness regularly we can even change the structure of our brains, as the neuro scientists have now discovered, neuro-plasticity. In other words, they have discovered that it is possible to physically change parts of our brain. In particular, they have discovered that with mindfulness practise, even after just 6-8 weeks, the amygdlya the fight, flight or freeze part of the brain shrinks and the hippocampus, the executive decision making and the memory area grows.
Mindfulness also enables us to have that pause to make a CHOICE before we act, rather than act on automatic pilot. So if every time your partner comes home late for dinner, you get mad and that has become your default reaction, mindfulness can create that pause to enable you to make a different choice. Just enough time to register what you are about to do… again…. and CHOOSE to do something different something perhaps with a more positive outcome for both of you.
With more regular practise the neuroscientists have discovered that mindfulness enables you to REGULATE YOUR EMOTIONS. You can calm your own anger or negative feelings as they arise… in the moment. This is a great help to anyone who tends to suppress or repress their emotions, because you learn to accept all emotions when you know you have the tool to deal with them in whatever way you choose.
So that roller coaster of high and low emotions which is so difficult sometimes to keep up with starts to flat line into peace, calm and awareness of what is really going on around you.
Self-awareness is the most wonderful tool to help you transform your life. If you are unconscious of a particular negative behaviour, there is no way you can address it. The first step to transforming an unwanted habit is to become aware you have it. Mindfulness, gives you the potential to see the habit because you can be fully present with yourself.
And remember mindfulness is NOT about stopping your thoughts to quiet the mind, which takes an awful lot of effort, it is about observing and embracing all your thoughts and feelings with acceptance so you can have that peace of mind we are looking for!
Written by Colette Savage
Join Colette every Tuesday 9.30AM-10.30AM or 7:30PM-8:30PM to reconnect with the Joy of Mindfulness
Mindfulness: Out of Or In Your Mind
Every area of life can improve when we understand mindful meditation. Though external factors seem to control much of our lives, your mind and your thought patterns are more powerful then anything outside yourself. Being mindful in approaching conflict or difficulties in work, relationships, parenting, or health can make a huge difference in how we experience them. If we distract ourselves and either avoid our emotions, or obsess and fixate on them, the result is more suffering. The answer lies between these extremes. In Buddhism, the “Middle Way” – an approach to life based on balance and moderation – speaks to the idea of keeping our mind in a place of acceptance where we notice and experience our feelings, but let them flow through us.