Updated: Jun 20
"Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life."
Thích Nhất Hạnh
Our thoughts and feelings are our own. They can cause us great joy and great distress.
We often feel we cannot control them. This is however, untrue.
When we become aware of our thought processes we can ultimately choose what to give our attention too.
This technique is core to practising mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a state where we are wholly focused on the present moment. Our full attention on what is happening right now.
You will have experienced this before but may not have realised what it was.
To better understand what mindfulness is, it is helpful to consider its opposite.
If when we are ‘Mindful’ our head is empty of anything other than the present moment, then when we are not being ‘Mindful’ our mind is full to the brim.
We are remembering and reliving past events or we are thinking about the future.
Ruminating about the past largely creates feeling of guilt and regret. Even if we are thinking about a pleasant experience our mind will usually focus on the parts we wish had not happened or wonder if we could have done better.
Thinking about the future usually creates fear and anxiety. Our default is to worry about what will happen. Again even when we are thinking about something we are looking forward too, doubts often creep in. “Will something occur to spoil our plans?” or “Will it live up to our expectations?”
We can also fall into the habit of trying to prepare ourselves for the worst case scenario. We tell ourselves that this is resilience; we will be ready for anything. However, imagining the worst outcome can manifest it for us, and we absolutely have a horrible time in the imagining.
With our thoughts on the past or future we let the present moment pass by without even noticing it.
We miss so much this way.
We can get through whole days and not really remember what has happened, reacting automatically, moving from task to task but not really being conscious of what we are doing.
We can have conversations but not really hear what the other person is saying, so consumed are we by our own thoughts.
Existing in this unconscious way, focused on our regrets and our worries, attracts and generates only more regret and worry.
To stop this process we must Live Mindfully. Being mindful of our daily activities and regularly practising mindfulness exercises.
A friend who is a climber once told us
“Whatever I was thinking about at the bottom of the climb, by the time I get to the top, the only thing I am thinking about is the climb”
That in a nutshell is mindfulness.
But do you have to engage in a risky sport to achieve mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about being conscious. Not operating on autopilot but, being fully alive to and involved in all that we do.
Take time to engage fully in every activity you do. When out in nature, truly look at the surroundings; notice the light, the movement, the sounds and smells. Even when doing the mundane things that we take for granted be completely involved in the act.
Make your actions more conscious.
Look for and engage in Mindfulness Exercises
‘The White Room’ is a guided meditation to help you achieve a ‘Mindful’ state.
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To learn more about how to live mindfully see ‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ from Sheldon Press. It takes you on a journey of self-discovery sharing over 60 tools and techniques, including meditations with purpose, visualisation exercises and practical tools to help improve your mental wellbeing and reduce anxiety. 'How to Rise' helps you to take control of your life