You know you are better off being mindful but it doesn’t seem to work. Why not?
Where is the catch?
The answer is: You must practice mindfulness before you can be mindful. The best way to practice is through meditation.
The hardest part is in the beginning when you discover how wild your mind is.
The key is to not be discouraged. Give it time to work. Just start where you are, stay with the practice, and learn how to work with your thoughts.
Working with a meditation instructor can help.
Here are some incentives to practice meditation daily.
1. Mindfulness helps you notice situations the need special attention.
Without mindfulness, you can be often distracted from what you are doing or from what is going on around you. Instead, you might easily lose yourself in thought.
Don’t believe me? Next time you take a shower, consider afterwards what you remember about the five minutes you spent there.
Mindfulness helps you pick up on subtleties of a situation, too. You learn to spot the potential progression of things early before big problems arise. For example, you may notice a slight frown or hear an slight sound. It is much easier to work with small issues before they get worse.
You learn what comes up for you and how you feel. Feeling bogged down, frustrated or resistant? Notice that!
Mindfulness will get you out of autopilot. You are able to detect your emotions quickly. Emotions can be a cue to pause and expand your awareness so that you can glean more information about what is happening. For example, if you notice feeling resistant to someone or something, take a look at what kind of siutation is going on.
Then set your intention and take mindful action by responding rather than blindly reacting.
2. Mindfulness helps you see what is happening without getting caught up in it.
When you are mindless, you can be easily caught up in your personal perspective and miss what is going on for others. You daydream, worry about the future or think about the past. You are more likely to impose your personal agenda, whether your agenda is appropriate or not.
For example, you might get so caught up in your impatience that you fail to notice a conversation escalating. Or perhaps you become obsessed as to why a text is left unanswered that you shoot off a comment that you regret later on, not realizing what is going on with the other person.
Instead while being mindful, you learn to notice what your mind is doing and how it can potentially create trouble.
3. Mindfulness helps with impulse control.
When you are mindless, you are caught up in the moment and grab onto what you want to shove away what turns you off. Mindfulness, on the other hand, teaches you not to cling so tightly to what you believe or want. You learn to concentrate, let go and let be.
For example, you can mindfully choose to go for a walk rather than indulge in that chocolate ice cream you love.
You respond to situations rather than react.
4. Through mindfulness you learn compassion for yourself (and for others).
You experience non-judgmentally how life can be messy and difficult for everyone, at least some of the time.
You share with others a sense of common humanity. You learn to feel kindness towards yourself and give yourself a break when you need it. You become kind to others as well.
5. Being mindful helps you connect with your joy.
There is great peace and joy when you dwell in the richness and vividness of the “now.” Past and future thinking can be a distraction to joy in the now.
For example, try smelling a rose while ruminating about your past or worrying about the future. Now, setting aside those thoughts, place your complete attention and sensory awareness on the rose and smell it again.
The smell of the rose is where your life is, right here and right now. This is where you will find your joy.
Tips for starting and practicing daily meditation:
- For five minutes daily, sit comfortably and simply follow your breath by resting your awareness on it and breathing easily. When your mind wanders, gently return it back to the breath.
- Seek instruction from a qualified meditation instructor and join group meditation with like-minded people
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© 2023 by Terry Kerler, MA, LPC. All Rights Reserved.