Life unfolds in the present. However we often let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and squandering the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about the past. “We’re living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration, and distraction,” says Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace.
We’re always doing something which leaves us little time to practice stillness and calm. We frequently do things with the idea to hurry up and get them done rather than enjoying the process.When we’re at work, we look forward to being on vacation; on vacation, we worry about the work piling up on our desks. We often dwell on negative memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future. We don’t appreciate the living present because our “monkey minds,” as Buddhists call them, vault from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
Stop Doing So Much and Instead Focus More on Just Being
Most of us don’t undertake our thoughts in awareness. Rather, our thoughts control us. “Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall,” writes Jon Kabat-Zinn, the biomedical scientist who introduced meditation into mainstream medicine. In order to feel more in control of our minds and our lives, to find the sense of balance that eludes us, we need to step out of this current, to pause, and, as Kabat-Zinn puts it, to “rest in stillness—to stop doing and focus on just being.”
We need to live more in the moment. Living in the moment—also called 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 from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Cultivating a nonjudgmental awareness of the present bestows a host of benefits. Mindfulness reduces stress, boosts our immune system, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure and helps people with severe illnesses cope better.
Studies have shown that mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empatheticand more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces the kinds of reactivity that underlie depression, binge-eating and not being able to focus on one thing. Mindful people can hear negative feedback without feeling threatened. They experience less conflict with their romantic partners and are more accommodating and less defensive. As a result, mindful couples have more satisfying relationships.
“Everyone agrees it’s important to live in the moment, but the problem is how,” says Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard and author of Mindfulness. “When people are not in the moment they’re not there to know that they’re not there.” Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes practice. Think of it as starting a new habit.
Living in a mindful manner involves a profound paradox: You can’t pursue it for its benefits. That’s because the expectation of reward launches a future-oriented mindset, which subverts the entire process. Instead, you have to trust that the rewards will come~ little by little each day.
Conclusion: Mindfulness is a habit which can dramatically increase the quality of your life and your relationships. If you’d like to find out more about cultivating mindfulness you can reach me at 512-922-4822 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.