Mindfulness is a practice of being deliberately alive. Alive in the moment. This moment.
It does not strive to achieve anything – except awareness. Not even relaxation.
As we sit in the moment, the deliberate part comes , not just from choosing to do the formal practice, but also from the attitudes we adopt in the meditation.
Adopting Attitudes of Mindfulness:
- Acceptance – this is what is happening now
- Non-striving Non-doing – put the solution on hold for a moment
- Curiosity – what is happening now? notice what you are not noticing
- Non-Judgement – judgement takes you out of the moment into how you interpret it based on past beliefs or future expectations, what could this mean that I don’t see?
- Beginner’s Mind – see with fresh eyes. Bring a sense of awe to the situation. Open to all the possibilities not just status quo. just start, see what is already working, see from different perspectives
- Humour – see the funny ways our mind works and the silly beliefs we operate on
- Patience – hurrying to get there distracts us from being here. Let the world go on without you for a few moments, allow things to develop outside of your control
- Kindness – look for the good intention, be the good intention for others and yourself
- Trust – allow don’t force – and trust yourself and your unconscious mind. You have the resources for this
- Letting Go/Letting Be – neither clinging nor pushing away: both of these give energy to the issue rather than allowing us to truly see it. Cloning to the way it was creates stress and pain – this is why allowing yourself to observe the breath is a great place to start
- Gratitude – notice now what you have
- Generosity – see how you make a difference and do it
- Compassion – to understand and sympathize with another’s situation
This practice, when done every day, builds those resources right at the physiological, neurological level. (The mass of your brain actually changes as you build these resources over 6 weeks.)
So that they are there for us in our every day life. In moments of joy, boredom or anxiety. Just there and automatically appearing.
I don’t often tell people how beautiful my life is. That I spend my day enveloped in joy and gratitude, creativity and curiosity. Because, unless they know how I got here, that can sound either unbelievable or obnoxious – and either way, unattainable.
There is a whole year of my life, during my anxiety breakdown, that I can barely even remember. I have vague recollections of letting people down, forgetting things, anxiety building, the sickness of it, the fear, the hacked websites, the family stress and money worries. I spent so much time in my primitive brain in “fight, flight, freeze, appease” I did not have access to the parts of the brain where memories are formed and stored I guess.
I do remember the breaking point. The point at which I decided that I had to run away from my life, maybe kill myself if I had the courage. I was sitting on the edge of my bed looking at my bedroom wall – where I had scribbled a bunch of nonsense in chalk. Words of despair. Hopeless, abandoned, weak and empty – the words and my heart echoing in sync.
The next thing I remember was arriving at my brother’s home and curling up on his couch. I could not speak or answer any of his questions, I just lay there – leaking tears. At some point – after 2 days or so, my brother talked me into going home and seeing a psychiatrist. Guilt was a big motivator for me at that time.
I lucked out with the psychiatrist. While he did prescribe two flavours of anti-depressants, he also prescribed Integrative Stress Management. A program built around mindfulness.
Mindfulness saved my life. It was the first step in the path that brought me here – to joy and confidence, hope and love. All of the wonderful emotions that I had numbed away alongside numbing my fear, doubt and anxiety are back – and it is beautiful.
Prior to this time, I had no tools for coping with or reducing anxiety in my mind or body. I thought (mistakenly) that I was just “an anxious person” – or maybe weak or broken. My memory problems had me convinced I was broken – I didn’t understand what my brain was doing as it struggled along in survival mode.
(Full disclosure: There have also been other wonderful steps that continued me on the path to emotional healing and joy. I also use other mind-body modalities including releasing stuck emotions and triggers, and using self-hypnosis and meditation to set my intention for each day and to appreciate with gratitude the incredible life I do have. And yes, I am still human. I still get nervous, yell at the the kids sometimes, feel discouraged. I just have the resources to bring to bear when I see that happening now. And yes, these are all part of the Breakthrough Coaching Program I offer clients. Everybody should learn these tools and skills!)
Mindfulness allows us to see what is – without interpreting it into proof that “this is always true” or meaning that something will happen because of it.
It allows us to bring resources to the moment so that we can respond, not just react.
Mindfulness can help you get past so many difficulties, all on its own – anxiety, depression, heartache, insomnia, chronic pain, stress…
Mindful meditation each day as a formal practice can help create the habit of informal practice throughout the day.
The concept is simple yet powerful. Remembering to be mindful requires more. A daily commitment, a guided meditation and a willingness to be not-so-good at it to start with.
It’s not the concept or the learning of mindfulness that effects change, but the actual repeated practice of mindfulness that rewires the brain to resource itself automatically when the amygdala fires.
Daily practice deepens the neurology – literally changing the brain – accessing the gift of neuroplasticity.
Ready for a taste of mindful meditation? 10 Minute Introduction and Mindfulness Experience This first MP3 will introduce you to some of the concepts and give you a feel for the practice. Each Monday, I will share another recording to help you as you build this habit. Eventually, you will have a favourite one or two recordings. Or one that works better when you are sleepy, one for when you are agitated, one for when you are stressed.
I would love to hear your experience. Comment, call or email me with how this is working in your life – and do let me know if I can help you along this path to joy and confidence so that you can have the life you want.
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