In a world of overwhelming information and underwhelming attention spans (now shorter than a fish – thank you smart phones!), mindfulness is essential.
But is mindfulness training?
Do we need to be taught mindfulness? Or is the root cause our inability to change from default behaviours to new healthy habits. I think it’s the latter. You can find the knowledge to change anywhere. But you need to learn the ability to change – by changing.
The good news for those how want to practise mindfulness is – you already are. Mindfulness is easier than you might think. It is simply being present and paying attention. It can happen at ordinary moments.
Being aware of when you’re already doing it will strengthen your resolve to take it further. You are already mindful occasionally. You just want it to happen more often.
Walk through any typical day and you will realise there are lots of times we practise mindfulness. You are mindful when you’re…
- Breathing deeply
- Hugging or cuddling
- Savouring the first smell of coffee in the morning
- Immersed in your daily/weekly exercise – one kick/pass/lift/stretch at a time.
- Listening to a song you like
- Walking down the street observing trees, birds, sounds and smells.
- Cycling (anywhere!)
- Staring out the window of the bus or train
- Focused deeply on a task that you enjoy – this is also called flow.
- Really engaged by an interesting conversation
- Sorting or folding clothes from the wash
- Stopping to catch the sun setting over the horizon
- Enjoying every bite of that lunch without distractions
- Cooking dinner (for yourself or for others).
- Enjoying a long hot (or cold!) shower at the end of the day.
- Engrossed in a great movie
- Paying attention as your child tells you about her day.
- Reading your favourite book
- Feeling your weight on the bed when you sleep
Do you need to be taught how to do any of the above? OK, don’t answer that… maybe just more often and with more active attention.
So what’s the problem?
Ever notice that how you’re enjoying lunch, then suddenly your mind races back to the office before you? This is the difference between passive and active attention.
Simply noticing this when it happens brings us to a mindful moment. You can move from passive to active just by noticing your thoughts. Ask yourself ‘am I paying attention right now? Am I distracted or focused? Am I here or elsewhere?‘
Doing this, you will catch yourself more often being mindless or passive. Then simply switch what you’re doing – take a break and get back to a more mindful state.
Noticing is the first step to mindfulness. It will impact everything you do, how you work and interact with others. More mindful moments in your life will make all your experiences so much better.
You already know how to do it. But knowledge without action is not wisdom.