We hear the word Mindfulness being used a lot today, whereas not so long ago it was all about Meditation.
They both have the ability to create something similar, coming from the same place. Both support the shutting down of our mind-chatter. This is often negative self-talk and which is destructive. By stopping and slowing down, the mind helps us concentrate on one thing only.
Let me initially talk about the differences between the two.
Meditation, from my perspective, is all about creating a space for the ritual of stopping, slowing down the breathing and concentrating on something like a word, sentence, a candle burning or listening to music. These, and other things, all aim to stop the ‘thinking mind’. The practice of meditation is something you stop and DO as an action.
Mindfulness, from my perspective, is about being aware of what is happening in a moment of time. It is a state of BEING. This is something that needs years of practice to live in constantly, knowing we can develop this over time. For example, whilst watering the garden or blanking the mind to nothing and just being present in the moment without any thought. Sometimes whilst having a cup of coffee or a meal, by focussing on the moment of enjoyment, without the extra thoughts that tend to arise in one’s silence, is another way to be in a ‘being’ state.
Related: “Awareness and Self-Awareness”
By being present and paying attention to what is happening around us can make a difference to our thoughts and actions. Having attention is about concentrating on what we are doing at any moment in time. Learning and cultivating mindfulness is not quite as easy as meditating but with time, persistence and practice, we can make a significant change in the way we use our attention in our daily life.
By understanding the significance of improving this aspect of our lives, we can also create better concentration, intimate relationship, spiritual practice and our own overall mental health.
We firstly need to observe ourselves by learning how to observe or watch our self in the moment. With this we can consider our actions to start the journey of self-observation.
People watching can be a great way to learn this skill. Try sitting in a shopping centre and without any discussion with self or others, just deliberately watch as others go about their daily life. Make no judgements, just observe!
Learning to be observant can be crucial to life. Being aware of what we do and say, not only to ourselves and others, is how we learn the inner peace that comes as a result. This is a lifetime practice and no-one is perfect at it, so being aware as much as possible will support clarity of mind as well as purpose.
We learn about ourselves and others by the small things that we all do. As a first step, by learning to observe, will fill in a picture of another, as a result of the things that they do or do not do. Listening to the language that is used, the self-talk and the body language helps as well. I suggest that by watching the TV series ‘Sherlock Holmes’, written initially by Arthur Conan Doyle, as a great example of what watching, listening and observing can give one in knowledge of another. Be aware that nothing is insignificant in observation. Then, by doing this with self, we can learn to watch and observe ourselves both externally and internally.
Start an exercise of observation. For example, look through a window on a beautiful sunny OR a rainy day and start observing and then writing down the minutest details you can see.
This can be an amazing experience that will help you to become mindful of what is happening around you. Note the colours, the life, the shapes, sounds, tastes and smells. Is there a breeze and what is it doing or not doing? See the flora and fauna (if any) and describe what you see and feel, both personally and from a temperature perspective.
When you have mastered this, go into a shopping centre and observe what you see there. Become aware of all the details about the shops and the people, their movements, their clothes and colours, their looks and expressions. What are the smells and can you taste anything? Is there music and talking? Become aware of the sounds and how you feel in these situations. What are the effects on you, as an individual?
Be aware of the details …. no matter how small. Continually thinking, how and what do I feel, see and or hear!
Unfortunately, we are not taught the value of observance. If schools spent some time on this aspect of learning we would be better conversationalists. This is a wonderful way for writers to get their descriptions for their work too. Sadly, we tend to only learn observance as a result of our preconceptions, prejudices and cultural conditioning.
You may be asking yourself by now how do I become a more effective observer. It starts firstly by becoming conscious of “just watching.” This is not as simple as it seems. To really watch what is going on around you requires a clear mind, taking away thoughts. Good observers try to rid themselves of preoccupations and slow down their mental processes in order to take everything in. If you wish to learn effective observation, this depends on a cultivated memory. Impressions picked up in the course of everyday life are worth nothing if they are not remembered. Good observers file away what they experience in the backs of their minds for the future.
Another good way to become mindful is to take a walk, rather than drive, and observe what is around you. It is surprising what one sees walking in comparison to driving a car. When we can leisurely walk and observe we start to see the little things, from the cracks in the footpath, the moss on the trees, the birds and ants that abound. There are sounds of nature around us but are not seen or heard in our everyday lives.
Related: “Is Self-Reflection GOOD for you?”
I suggest that you become more mindful of your world around you. This will change your life in business as well, if you just watch and observe those around you. Be aware of your thoughts and reactions to things that are happening though. It is easy to forget and become critical of your likes and dislikes too!
So, become more mindful of your own individual world and those who inhabit your life. Start examining how you live your life and how others around you respond. Become aware of your own lack in some areas and change your thinking into a more positive and adventuristic life!
Life is your opportunity to create so that you become your very best. The only way you can do this is to become who you were born to be!
Jennie is available for one-on-one sessions via Skype or in person.
For more information email her at firstname.lastname@example.org