Life unfolds in the present. But so often we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and unseized. We squander the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about the past. We’re always doing something, (usually two things at once) and we allow little time to practice stillness and calmness.
When we’re at work, we fantasize about being on holiday and, when on holiday, we worry about the work piling up on our desks. We dwell on things that went wrong yesterday or fret about things that might go wrong tomorrow. We don’t appreciate the present because our “monkey minds,” as Buddhists call them, vault from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the scientist who introduced meditation into mainstream medicine wrote:
Ordinary thoughts course through our minds like a deafening waterfall.
In order to feel more in control of our minds and our lives, to find that sense of balance that eludes us, we need to step out of this raging torrent, pause and rest in a moment in stillness. We have to stop doing and focus on just being. We are, after all, human beings not human doings! We need to learn to live more in the moment.
Living in the moment or mindfulness is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts and you stop taking them seriously or judging them.
It’s been proven that mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, and helps patients cope with cancer.
Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. They are less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, binge eating and other mental disorders. Mindful people fight less with their romantic partners and are more accommodating and less defensive.
Why is this? Why are mindful people happier than the rest of us? It’s because all happiness exists in the NOW and when we are in the NOW we don’t feel stress. We’ve all experienced the situation of being ‘lost’ in a book or a film. When we get ‘lost’ in something, when we become totally absorbed in cooking for example, time just seems to disappear. These are the times when you have been truly stress free and happy.
Most of us rush through our lives thinking: I’ll be happy when ….. :
We’ve got the new car, when we’ve moved house, when the kids have left home, when I’ve lost 10 kg, when I’m fit and healthy, when we’ve got some money saved, when I’ve found a new partner, when the weather turns better, when we’ve finished …., when we’ve started …., when it’s finally all over etc, etc, etc.
None of those things are true, you won’t be happy then because happiness only exists in the NOW. It’s obvious from this that the more time we spend in the NOW the less stress we experience and the more happiness we feel.
Here are 6 ideas to help you experience more mindfulness:
- To improve your performance, stop thinking about it.
- If you want a great future stop worrying about it, just inhabit the present.
- To make the most of your time, lose track of it.
- If something is bothering you, move toward it not away from it.
- Know that you don’t know and be content with that fact.
- Stop trying to control things you have no control over, which incidentally is almost everything!
To find out more about Mindfulness go to www.johnshack.com/pause
John Shackleton www.johnshack.com 021 366 669