You will have done mightily well to not come across this thing called mindfulness, as it’s been talked about and written about for a while now. It’s the not-so-new big thing, having been around for thousands of years, and the benefits of mindfulness are many.
I’ve been practising mindfulness meditation daily for the last 5 years to help manage chronic fatigue syndrome, and I can say without doubt that it’s been fundamental in helping me live with this chronic illness.
It’s taught me that the state of my body (which, right now, is aching like a building’s landed on me) doesn’t need to dictate my experience, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s also reduced stress, helped me appreciate the small things and fixed a leaky tap in the bathroom.
Kidding about that last one, but I would love you to dip your toe in the water of mindfulness and I’ve written this ActionPoint to do just that.
- Read through these steps slowly and non-judgementally. Don’t skim; breathe them in. You’re going to close your eyes in a moment, so you’ll need to know what to do ; )
- Sit up in your chair so that you’re sitting “tall”. Straighten your back, ease into the position and gently close your eyes.
- Bring your attention to the sounds around you, whatever they happen to be. You don’t need to go out searching for sounds, hunting them down like looking for a friend in a crowd, because they’re already right here. They already arrive at your ears without you doing anything, so simply let them come to you, and be aware of them when they do.
- Don’t judge the sounds for being too quiet, too loud or too dissonant. They are what they are, and you have the ability to hear them all. Just hear what’s already there, without wanting them to be a certain way.
- Your mind will wander, that’s what minds do after all. As soon as you notice that your mind has wandered away from hearing, note that it’s been wandering and gently bring your attention back to the sounds that are arriving at your ears. Don’t turn it into a problem or tell yourself off for letting your mind wander, just move your attention back to hearing what’s already there.
- Keep this going for 15 minutes.
- If you care to, and if practising this feels like it could be a good idea, feel free to repeat this exercise daily. Find 15 minutes when you’re awake and alert, and go for it.
Tough, right? We’re not used to focusing our attention this way, and the trick isn’t to force your mind to be a certain way but to let your mind be however it is and yet aim your focus on just the area you’re interested in.
It takes practice, and it’s practice that’s never “done”.
But why bother with mindfulness in the first place? The science is in its infancy, but I’ve seen first hand that it offers a sense of accepting the present moment—and your place in it—just as it is. It’s a sense that knows you’re whole and allows you to choose based on that wholeness.
It’s a direct route to natural confidence. I’d love to hear how you get on with this, so add a comment to let me know how you get on!