With all the impulses constantly rushing towards us, it is sometimes difficult to calm down. How wonderful it would be to be able to clear our heads completely in just a few minutes a day. But is that realistic? And how much effect does a minute of mindfulness actually have?
A large part of our lives we are not in the here and now at all, but more often at last night, tomorrow or maybe at that coveted vacation that was coming up. Mindfulness means in the basics: focus your attention on being present in the here and now. Important is that you do this in a non-condemning, inquisitive way. That may sound simple, but it is not always.
Mindfulness means in the basics: focus your attention on being present in the here and now
Precisely because we often do not live in the now, mindfulness is also called attention training. During such a training you become more aware of where your attention is and you probably find out that it is gone more often than present. During mindfulness you learn to bring this attention back to the current moment and the things that are important.
If you can be present in the moment, then you are automatically more aware of how your body feels. Probably you suddenly notice how emotions and thoughts are connected, or how you tend to react in certain situations. Normally these things take place without you realizing it. You become anxious or frustrated, without knowing why. Mindfulness helps you to get more insight into these emotions, to understand them and to regulate them better.
Here we go again
To become mindful, it is important that you are aware of your own patterns. If you are aware of your patterns, you can anticipate them in the next situation. Instead of running away or getting angry, you think: ‘there we go’, or ‘I recognize this’ and you can decide to deal with the situation differently than you normally would have been inclined to do.
Becoming mindful is not something you learn in a minute or a day. You can work with it your whole life and develop it further, if you are open to it. The most important thing is to realize that there is a difference between being present and not being present with your attention. If you are open to that experience, you notice that you experience and notice things differently. Once you have that realization, you don’t lose it.
Leg as high as my neighbor?
If you want to go further than just experimenting with mindfulness at home, you can also take a course that will help you in depth. In such a course you will learn about various topics that can play a major role in your path to becoming mindful.
One of the things that often comes up in such a course is the fact that we too often compare ourselves with each other. This is a very logical, natural, social tendency, but it is not always necessary. Take yoga as an example: during your first class you constantly look around you to see if your leg is as high as that of your neighbor. Or you look at all those slim, muscular women in the room. That’s not necessary at all, and probably arouses feelings of jealousy or insecurity.
Mindfulness teaches you to let go of these kinds of negative emotions and thoughts and to focus on things like how your body feels inside. That gives you peace of mind and connection with your own body.
Mindfulness gives you peace of mind and connection with your own body
Maybe you read this and think: nice and interesting, but I’ll just go on buying nice clothes and strict diets. That is of course a choice, but beware: there may come a time when you get in trouble. Sometimes you run into things you can’t control. Think of a burn-out, losing a loved one or losing your job.
Even though you’re not waiting for mindfulness right now, there may come a moment in your life when it will come in handy. At that moment, if you think: how should I proceed? You find out that your life is less certain than you thought. Mindfulness helps you to deal with that. You learn to put things into perspective and are better able to take a beating.