Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Value of Mindfulness vs Meditation

Today I'd like to talk about Mindfulness - essentially being present and focused in our daily lives - as opposed Meditation which generally involves quieting the mind and focusing it for a period of time. So for example, you could meditate for 20 minutes by listening to your breath, picturing a candle in your mind's eye or by following a guided meditation. I love meditations, especially when they talk us through healing mind, body and spirit. Or better yet, when we access our intuition to ask for loving support and guidance. Eventually the meditation has to come to an end and we bring ourselves back to our senses so we can go about our daily lives. 

This is where Mindfulness comes into play. It's about hanging onto that sense of peace, awareness and grounding in our waking hours. In my case, it's usually about coming out of my cloud of thoughts so that I'm aware of my energy, my surroundings and my mind. A quick way to switch off our thoughts would be to focus on our breath as we go about our daily tasks. Another would be to take stock of your surroundings and your physical sensations. Is it warm? How do your clothes feel against your skin? What are the make and model of the cars that are parked on the street as you walk by. Listen for sounds of birds, traffic, etc. Our five senses can bring us into a moment of complete awareness. 

Being mindful is also about noticing our thought patterns and staying in the moment, instead of getting lost in a daydream or worrying about the future. It can be hard to be present 24/7, but we can set reminders to bring us back. I recently asked for advice on Reddit and got a few wonderful suggestions: 

  • Focus on your breath during the day, take deep breaths to calm down. 
  • Set an alarm on your phone throughout the day and make a note of where your thoughts are. Take the opportunity to bring yourself back to the moment, and if you notice a thought pattern make sure to write it down. This may be what needs to be healed and released on a subconscious level.
  • Wear a mindfulness bracelet as a reminder. My version of this is to wear my watch on the wrong wrist one or two days a week. The odd physical sensation brings me back to the moment and also makes me more aware.
  • Start by sitting down to meditate for 15 minutes and then transition into a mindfulness meditation, where you focus your attention on something like housework, cooking or doing the dishes.

The end result is a welcome mental vacation because worrying, fretting and scenario planning can add a lot of stress to our lives. I really like Eckhart Tolle's approach to mindfulness and I'm a huge fan of his book, A New Earth. Tolle suggests that we can observe our thoughts to get some distance and slowly break the habit of worrying. Planning for our future and carefully reacting to changes is necessary, but constantly worrying about potential obstacles is not. It's also been said that 70/80/90% of the things we worry about never happen, and that life happens when we're in the moment, not wrapped up in our thoughts. So don't worry, be happy and be mindful and grateful for everything.

Don't Worry, Be Happy by 
Bobby McFerrin





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Reiki hugs, Regina



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