How To Develop A Mindfulness Practice (Part One)


MoHow   Posted By   Dr. MO   Over the past twenty-five years of my life I have focused on living more mindfully, and while I don’t always succeed, I have learned a few things that I want to share with you.

The first is a mindful life is worth the effort. It’s a life where we awaken from the trance we have unwittingly been putting our selves in, the state of having your mind anywhere but in the present moment, locked in thoughts about what you’re going to do later, about something someone else said, about something you’re stressing about or angry about. The state of mind where we’re lost in noise.

It’s worth the effort, because being awake means we’re not missing life as we walk through it. Being awake means we’re conscious of what’s going on inside us, as it happens, and so can make more conscious choices rather than acting on our impulses all the time.

The second thing I’ve learned is that we forget. We forget, over and over, to be awake. And that’s OK. Being mindful is a process of forgetting, and then remembering. Repeatedly. Just as breathing is a process of exhaling, and then inhaling, repeatedly.

The third is that mindful living isn’t just one thing. It’s not just meditation. Nor is it just focusing on the sensations around you, right now in this moment. I’ve found mindful living to be a range of different ways of getting at the same thing, with each way useful in its own way.

Here’s a big question for you to ask yourself….

Why bother to spend the time learning how to be more mindful? What’s the purpose? Is it just for some ideal of living a peaceful, stress-free life?

And here’s my answer…

No. A stress-free life doesn’t exist, but with these different ways of living you will be more able to deal with the stresses that will inevitably come your way. And, you will be more capable of overcoming the fear of failure and fear of discomfort that’s holding you back, that’s keeping you from making positive changes in your life.

Mindfulness will help you improve your relationships, start a business, write a book, create music, find your purpose in life, become the person you’ve always wanted to be.

Now, here is a list of 5 ideas and skills  I’ve been learning, and practicing, to help me be more mindful. Tomorrow I will add 5 more

1.    Meditation. Meditation is where mindful living starts.You can sit still for even just 1 minute a day to start with (work up to 3-5 minutes after a week), and turn your attention to your body and then your breath. Notice when your thoughts wander from your breath, and gently return to the breath. Repeat until the minute is up.
2.    Being Awake. Meditation is practice for being awake, which is not being in a trance state with your mind wandering, getting lost, thinking about the past, or worrying about the future.but  It’s about being awake to the present, to what is. Being awake is something you can do throughout the day, all the time, if you remember.
3.    Watching your urges. I have learned that I am not my urges, that I don’t have to act on my urges, and this has helped me change all my other habits. Watch your urge to check email or social media, to eat something sweet or fried, to drink alcohol, to smoke, to watch TV, to be distracted, to procrastinate. These urges will come and go, and you don’t have to act on them.
4.    Watch your shoulds. We all have ideals, all the time. We have an ideal that our day should go perfectly, that people must be be kind and respectful to us, that we will be perfect, that ought to ace an exam or important meeting, that we’ll never fail. Of course, we know from experience that those ideals are not real, that they don’t come true, that they aren’t realistic. But we still have them, and they cause our stress and fears and grief over something/someone we’ve lost. By letting go of perfect outcomes, we can let go of our suffering.

5.    Become okay with the unknown. Fear of the unknown is huge, it causes people to be stuck in their old bad habits, to not start the business they want to start, to be stuck in a job they don’t really like, because we tend to stick to the known and comfortable rather than try something unknown and uncomfortable. It’s why many people don’t eat vegetables or exercise, why they eat junk, why they don’t start something new. But we can be okay with the unknown, with practice. Start with things that are a little uncomfortable, and keep expanding your comfort zone.

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