What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is one of the most valuable and transformative meditation techniques I have tried – and I’ve tried plenty! I am always sceptical of techniques and processes that make bold claims to change your life but in this case there is not only anecdotal evidence (myself included) but also scientific evidence.
The technique is remarkably simple but it is the deliberate practice of it that makes it so effective. It is the process of focussing your attention on the present, on what is right in front of you. For me, it began very simply by just lying down, closing my eyes and concentrating on what my breathing felt like.
I fixed my attention on the physical sensation – the breath travelling into and through my body, the physical sensations as my muscles worked to move the air. To begin with I was hardly able to lie down before a negative thought entered my head. Slowly, though, I learned to allow those thoughts to move through my mind and away. I practised keeping my focus on my breath and simply observing other things happen. It wasn’t that I ignored them, just that they happened and I deliberately did not focus on them.
Why should I be mindful?
Eventually, I was able to use the technique at other times. I didn’t need to lie down and focus, I could say to myself, ‘I’m going to be mindful’ and just focus on a particular thing, like the way a candle flame moved, or the way droplets of water moved down a plate on the draining board.
Mindfulness allowed me to slowly take back control of my own emotions and thoughts. The process of focusing on something simple and present enabled negative thoughts and stress to fall away – however briefly.
I still use mindfulness every day, in some ways less deliberately, but in one very significant way: I try to live every day in the present. I work hard and give a great deal of myself to my family and my work. But I am always in the present and working on events that I can actually influence. Mindfulness has given me a clear focus and allowed me to empty my mind of anything I don’t need.
Where can I find out more?