Mindfulness is somewhat of a “buzzword” today, appearing in practically every fitness report with details of its magical effects. It has even been touted as a good fit for de-stressing seminars or military programs.
This recent rise in popularity which is fueled by numerous research that highlights the benefit of mindfulness has caused so many people around the world including college students and business executives, to try it out.
All the news flying around from different sources — not all are reputable sources though — may orientate some people to think that by adopting the practice for some time, it would take all of their problems away. But things don’t work this way.
Mindfulness is not a medicine that will cure you instantly, neither is it a “get well fast” routine that will provide you with a shortcut to being in prime condition. It’s another approach to see the world and it requires a fair amount of practice, patience, and courage.
Still, we all need things like cars, houses, different material goods and we need the loans for those. We need something to rely on, like a good investment that will bring us money, life insurance and health coverage plans. The aim of living mindfully is to get the most of it all – To live long enough for that insurance to actually pay off!
How can one do that? Finding out is your first step on that journey.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of mind in which you are completely aware of what is going on around you and inside you, without any extra judgment, doubt, or aversion.
It is possible to apply mindfulness to your daily life. However, you can get yourself into a formal practice that involves taking note of your breath, body, thoughts, sounds, or even the external world around you.
To practice mindfulness, do the following:
- Make sure you get into a comfortable sitting position, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.
- After some time, raise your finger and use it to touch your nose.
- When you’re able to recognize that sensation without giving it too much thought, then you are mindful of it.
You would feel different compared to when you start thinking like “I am touching my nose” or “this thing is silly”.
Bodily mindfulness involves being sensitive to the bare sensation of touch. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well it is, and at the same time, it isn’t. It is quite a complex concept that requires some practice for full understanding.
The human mind is designed to evaluate information from our daily activities and use them to form quick opinions about certain scenarios. This can be a good tool that helps us survive, make healthy decisions, and avoid danger. However, it is not always the best course of action.
There are some scenarios where you may get stuck in this loop or get too quick to react in such a way that it would cause us stress.
For instance, “my coworkers stopped talking as soon as I got into the room, and I feel nervous. They must have been saying bad things about me.” Thoughts like this could easily make you anxious.
Mindfulness will teach you to be nonjudgmental and can eliminate these bad patterns. Why Doesn’t Mindfulness Work For Me?
Well, this shouldn’t be strange to you because mindfulness doesn’t seem to work for everyone. This is not to say that it is not effective, but many times people misunderstand it.
It can be a difficult concept to grasp especially if you don’t have an expert or someone to show you how to get it done. Some of the most common complaints about mindfulness include:
- My mind is just too wild to tame.
- I still feel terrible and stressed out, which means that mindfulness is not working for me.
- I thought the whole process was supposed to be easy.
Do you notice something common about these complaints? Many people are unable to practice their mindfulness properly because they still have their minds fixed on regular expectations, instead of understanding things for how they really are.
These people are unclear about what mindfulness is and are practicing based on misconceptions. They are treating their deep-rooted beliefs as clear seeing and sticking to it.
Some people believe that they cannot relax due to all the nervous energy in them and would probably go all hyperactive like a child jumping excitedly on a trampoline. Exercise is effective and a great way to relax the body but it’s not the same as mindfulness. Therefore, it does not have the same effects.
Using your own expectations to judge the success of mindfulness practices can be frustrating at the beginning of it all. There may have been studies that show numerous benefits from constant practice within 8 weeks but this doesn’t imply that the same would apply to you.
When practiced properly, mindfulness produces a magical feel but do not mistake it for a magical pill or solution.
It produces different results for people. Some people may be able to enjoy an immediate sense of peace when they meditate while others may be unable to concentrate and their minds keep drifting from one area to another.
If you’re facing some slight difficulty, you should not let it overwhelm you. It is possible to remain mindful despite your wandering thoughts, doubt, and frustration.
Do you remember that gentle feeling you felt on your nose earlier? You can also apply it to different parts of your life and connect it to moments of peace, joy, despair, and stress.
How To Tell If You’re Being Mindful?
Let’s imagine a scenario where you have to give a presentation. You’ve worked hard to gather enough information for a great presentation but a few minutes before it, you start to feel nervous. These are a few options describing how you would be feeling including the mindful one.
“I’m nervous. What if I fail at this? What if I make a mistake and everyone laughs? Why did I agree to do this? Should I say I’m sick and get excused? I need to leave this place.”
Spinning Out, Mistaken For Mindfulness
“It’s time to practice mindfulness for this feeling to go away. Let’s do this. I’ll pay attention to my thoughts. I’m nervous. Why can’t I concentrate? Why isn’t this leaving my mind? I thought mindfulness was the solution.”
You take a deep breath and notice the nervousness that you are feeling and the pounding in your chest. By not paying attention to judging yourself, you become aware of how you’re feeling.
Now, you don’t need the nervousness to go away nor will you spend time thinking about it. You simply see how it is now. After some time, the nervousness will begin to calm. Soon, you would notice the calm feeling and hold on to it.
So, does mindfulness work for everyone? It is impossible to say but it produces different effects in people. Even if you’ve not been feeling its effects, learn to do it the right way, and stick to its principles.