Be present, not perfect!
We are all guilty of living on autopilot; whether that taking a shower quickly or having no memory of the journey home from work. With mindfulness we work on living fully in the present, being aware of our feelings- both physical and emotional. We learn to fully pay attention to one thing at a time, as multitasking can cause more stress than it alleviates!
What does it mean to you to ‘be present’? Why is it important? Being present can be as simple as doing one thing at a time. Practising living mindfully rather than mindlessly and living in the now- not having one foot in the past or the future. We can listen mindfully and presently; paying attention to the subtleties of our subject and not thinking about the next thing we need to be doing.
A head of full of fears has no space for dreams!
Fear is an important human experience; while it can paralyze us with fear of failure, fear of judgement, it is also a process in which we can grow and heal. Large fears are often instinctual, small ones learned. Often small anticipated fears are what holds us back from undertaking what we truly wish we could do. If you had no fear today, what would you do and why?
By listing those things you would do, if you had no fear, you can analyse what the fear is rooted in. Recognise and acknowledge the fear as calmly as you can. Accept your fears compassionately in order to overcome them. Being fearless means using fear in ways that benefit; after all, if you live in fear, everything feels frightening.
Be alive in the present by moving in being!
Taking a step back in our minds from doing and instead moving into a state of pure, present being is a key skill of mindfulness. Attending to our sensations, thoughts and feelings means that the negative energies in our mind lose much of their influence.
The mind’s ‘doing’ mode is the mode of efficiency- the realm in which we get things done in the physical world. This mode has its negative aspects- it is here that we react automatically, worry about the future and regret the past- but it offers up so many possibilities for moving towards our personal goals. In comparison, the ‘being’ mode may seem rather dull and unappealing; after all, what’s the point of just sitting there, with a still mind?
The ‘being’ mode is not just for the spiritually minded: the basic, non-judging (or choiceless) awareness that comes to the foreground when you drop into ‘being’ mode has been a vital inner resource from the start of our conscious lives and it’s available to us at every moment. It can give us nourishment and calm within our busy, lives of seemingly endless doing. What we gain from this is not spiritual wisdom but a practical way to inhabit our everyday lives more fully.
When you combine the ‘being’ mode with noticing your sensations, thoughts or feelings, you enter a mindful state, with its attendant physical and psychological benefits. Achieving that takes practice; if you just try ‘being’ for a few seconds, you won’t find it easy.
So, what does ‘being’ look like? Imagine that you are in the park, looking intently at a rose. You let go of everything in your mind except the sensation of the rose: there is no room in your thoughts for past or future, for anxiety or for any other emotion. If a thought intrudes, you simply let it drift out of your mind the same way that it drifted in. You don’t battle with that thought because that would take you back to the doing mode. Right there, you have chosen mindfulness.
Characteristics of ‘being’ mode
Non-judgement- Not measuring what happens or has happened against what should be happening or should have happened. ‘Should’ thinking has no place here.
Living in the moment- ‘Being here and now’ and not engaging with any thought of past or future that happens to come into your mind.
Acceptance- Not engaging in a critical or disappointed dialogue with yourself, and being compassionate with yourself whenever you unintentionally think of any kind of error you’ve made.
Attention- Focussing the mind on its own experience in the moment and if it gets distracted, gently returning your focus to the object of your attention.
Passivity- Not making decisions, planning or problem-solving: these all belong to the ‘doing’ mode.
Responsiveness- Not reacting to any unwanted inner or outer distractions (thoughts or sensations), but simply noticing them and letting them drift away.
Non-engagement- Not getting absorbed into an emotion or unwanted thought that happens to cross your mind, remaining distant from an emotion’s underlying story.
Engage all your senses, through sense meditation!
The senses are the interface between self and its environment, filtering everything we perceive in the world around us. Vision and hearing tend to dominate our lives. Use these prime senses to connect to the now but give time to the other three senses too.
Purposefully perceiving our immediate surroundings through our five senses- sight, sound, touch, smell and taste- brings us into direct and exclusive contact with the present moment. When the senses are engaged, the mind has no time for thoughts or emotions, nor for the past or the future.