Mindfulness, that is.
But what is it? And, more importantly, what can it do for you?
That’s my big question for March. Maybe April too.
Because already it seems to be much, much more than where I started from with it.
Which was meditation.
I began that, or more truthfully, began it again, last week.
Some years ago I learned Transcendental Meditation, following a visit to an astrologer, in which she told me I needed to deepen my powers of intuition ahead of a big shift in consciousness for me. And that meditation would help.
For a good while after that I kept to the practice and was meditating twice a day. I know I felt calmer and much more productive during that time. Things would get done, without feeling that they were a particular effort. And, if they didn’t get done, they weren’t supposed to .
But I guess I hit a very busy work period and the wheels came off that wagon…
So, last Tuesday, when I decided it was time to get back to it, was a bit like plugging back in.
In truth, so far anyway, I’m doing a bastardized version of TM: a 20-minute session first thing in the morning alongside a mindfulness bell.
The TM initiation gives you a mantra which is your point of focus. You breath and keep to the mantra. It’s not that you stop thinking immediately. But it’s about noticing that your thoughts are there without attaching to them.
They’re just thoughts.
But learning to meditate, and experiencing the benefits of it, takes time and discipline. There are no hacks to getting the big gains. I know from last time, and it’s certainly true again now, you have to put the effort in to making it happen.
So, step one for me has just been creating the ritual.
My ritual is to get up early, eat a light breakfast (as I can otherwise feel quite spacey), meditate and then shower and dress.
At which point I’m ready for the day.
That may or may not work for you. You’ll have to find your own groove and work with it. I know some who like to find a quiet spot at lunchtime and meditate then. Others for whom early evening, right after work, is better.
One real challenge is in simply creating the space.
I know I can feel incredibly guilty if I’m taking time for myself when I imagine there’s an expectation that I’ll be doing something for or with others.
And another thing, which hasn’t come up so far in the last days, but I know will soon enough is, what to do when a working day – maybe because of a particularly early meeting or a long commute – makes meditating a challenge?
If you have any wisdom on these things, I’d love to hear it.
Mindfulness and Why It Matters
But of course mindfulness isn’t just about meditation. When I reached out to my friends on Facebook to ask how others understood it, I got some interesting replies:
I suspect that one of the key overlaps between meditation and mindfulness is that they both bring you back to the present moment. Apart from anything else meditation may do, it certainly brings you back to the body. It trains you to stay in the present and to stay there more of the time.
Our society, by contrast, trains us to be in our heads a lot. To get caught up in thinking about the past or the future, or what other people might think about us or what’s right or wrong. All kinds of abstract, thought-created possibilities.
Meditation and mindfulness seem to help us tap into consciousness. That ability we have as humans to be present to our moment to moment to moment realities.
For sure, you can be mindful without meditating. And for me, that’s the ultimate.
What are the benefit of mindfulness? Well, the more I’m able to stay in the present, the less I’m concerned about what may have happened, or might happen, the calmer I feel. If I’m not angsting about things, the happier I feel. If I don’t have so much clutter jamming up my head, the more in flow I feel. The more creative I appear to be.
There’s even evidence that meditation can have great health benefits, like lowering your blood pressure.
So, I’d say that it’s a key thing in helping you be a better you.
It’s early days on my return to the practice. But I’ll check in with you again and let you know how it’s all going.
Meantime, we’ve got some pretty cool stuff coming soon on all things Wellbeing. Join us here to make sure you don’t miss out.