Mindfulness is really hip right now. Or at least owning a book on mindfulness, maybe skim reading it, maybe trying out one or two of the practices, DEFINITELY speaking about it at dinner parties – is really hip right now. It’s soooo on trend.
But what is it exactly?
It’s probably easier to say what it isn’t:
- Stopping thoughts
- Trying to get calm
Thich Nhat Hanh said ‘it’s not a matter of faith, it’s a matter of practice’. It is a process which must be repeated over and over to get better at it (whatever ‘better’ means in this context), just as you would brush your teeth everyday, or lift weights to build muscle. It’s a case of little and often.
Find a quiet spot and a regular time (first thing in the morning helps to set me up for the day), and switch off the phone (there is something about putting the phone into flight mode which has an immediate positive effect on me). Sit either in a chair or on cushions with an upright spine and bring the awareness to the body and the breath….
…and I can guarantee your mind will wander.
And when it does (not if), gently bring the awareness back to the body and the breath. If it wanders a thousand times, bring it back a thousand times.
That is the practice: it is the bringing of awareness back which is the purpose of mindfulness. Not being controlled by the thoughts or the feelings.
And eventually you may feel calm and the mind may be clearer of thoughts – or at least there will be some distance between them.
At that stage I’ll leave it to you to decide whether it’s easy or not.