Mindfulness has become a “buzz word” in the world of holistic health. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can improve one’s mental/emotional health and can be a useful tool in being more present in our daily lives.
Some time ago, I took a mindfulness course, in which the instructor asked us to consider the opposite of “mindfulness” – He suggested that the opposite of mind-ful-ness, is “mind-less-ness”. When you put it those terms, it certainly makes sense to strive to be more mindful in our words and actions than mindless. But, what does that mean?
We live in a society that prizes “Multi-tasking”, yet multi-tasking is not good for our brains and is the anti-thesis of cultivating one-pointed concentration – which is preparation for meditation and mindfulness. No wonder so many people have difficulty meditating! Women are supposed to be especially good at multi-tasking. I can remember citing the “ability to multi-task” as a positive quality in job interviews back in the day. But, I don’t anymore. I am no longer good at multi-tasking. I have been training my brain for the past 7 years (at least) to focus on one thing. I have been practicing one-pointed concentration – being fully present in the moment and focusing my mind on the task at hand. Once you begin to let go of the need to “multi-task”, it becomes easier to quiet your rambling mind. But, it takes time and it takes practice, because it runs counter to what our society says we should be doing. It takes time to unlearn and release this conditioning. I suggest beginning by taking just 5 minutes to sit and focus on your breath. You can set a timer. Watching the breath and even counting your breath, can give the mind something to focus on. It acts as an anchor to pull you back when your thoughts begin to wander. And they will wander. You may find yourself thinking of the day ahead, what you should pack for lunch, something that happened yesterday, or just about anything else that comes to mind. That is normal and okay. The key is to not get frustrated. Once you begin to see your mind drift away from it’s focus on the breath – that is the first step! Once you recognize your mind drifting - bring it back to center on the breath. You are cultivating the Witness. You are seeing your mind wander and watching where it goes when you give it the space to be still. If you continue this practice, you will eventually catch glimpses of complete stillness where there is peace. It is an amazing gift when the mind simply stops. This is NOT “mind-less-ness”, but meditation. Cultivating the ability to stop the “monkey mind” from it’s endless rambling will allow you to be fully present in the moment, and mindful of your thoughts, words and actions. So, I encourage you to take some time to stop multi-tasking, and, instead, practice mindfulness and meditation. Your brain will thank you for it (even if your boss does not!). Namaste.