How could it be?
Mindfulness is a really simple concept to grasp, really easy to understand, and if I told you how to do it (which we did here: How To Practice The Art Of Mindfulness), you’d master it in a crack.
It’s not like learning to play the violin or building a rocket.
It’s not complicated at all.
Yet, it’s nothing like as easy as it sounds.
I know, you probably spotted the contradiction there. I just said it was easy and then that it isn’t. Oh. My. Gosh.
Let me explain.
It is easy to practice mindfulness anytime I ask you to try it.
Despite this fact, it’s not so easy to make it part of our everyday lives.
On this site, we’ve been fascinated by and writing about mindfulness for ages. We’ve had guest articles from experts on the subject and several of our concepts and articles (simplification, health, enjoying every moment, shinrin yoku, forgiveness, small changes…) relate very strongly to mindfulness even if they don’t explicitly mention it.
As well as this, we have plenty of articles that do explicitly mention mindfulness from various perspectives:
- How To Practice The Art of Mindfulness as mentioned above, describes the concept (with a great video clip from Jon Kabat-Zinn) and, well, how to practice it.
- Mindful Eating: A Healthier Relationship With Food is all about how combining the simple practice of mindfulness with the way we eat not only increases our enjoyment of what we’re eating but is also tremendously beneficial for our health
- 5 Ways to Reduce Stress with Mindfulness is a guest article from mindfulness expert Laura Schenck – you can also check out Laura’s website for lots more on Mindfulness here: mindfulnessmuse.com
- How To Simplify Your Life: 8 Mindful Ways To Enjoy Life More (doesn’t really need any further explanation, does it?)
- Be Mindful: 12 Inspiring Articles You Can Read Today To Help You Start Practicing Mindfulness (neither does this)
- Recently with all of the talk about goals and goal setting I wrote an article on The Balance Between Mindfulness and Goals
So perhaps we have got the subject well and truly covered, but I’m not going to promise you we won’t write more on it in the future.
As well as all of this, there has been plenty of attention to Mindfulness in the media again lately. In a recent phone call with my mother, remembering that it’s something we’ve talked about a lot on this site, she mentioned that she’d read an article on mindfulness in her local newspaper. There was also this article in the guardian recently on the subject: Mindfulness: a beginner’s guide.
I had a conversation with my mother about the subject and how it’s not always easy, then I had a similar conversation with someone else later in the week. It occurred to me that we’ve written a lot about the subject but never about how tricky it can actually be because in reality our minds do tend to wander.
The trick is to recognize this when it happens and to do something about it.
The Wandering Mind
Most of us could do with spending a lot more time in the present, myself included.
It’s an easy concept to grasp, still we find our minds wandering into the future or the past. When that happens it’s worth remembering that the mind is a superb powerful analytical tool which can be used for great things, but we should actively use it when we need to, rather than being controlled by it when we don’t.
So when our minds wander, don’t worry about it, just bring things back to the present – even if this is tricky sometimes, trying to do it is better than not doing it at all.
Also – the more we remind ourselves to be present, the easier it gets.
Obviously when we get ourselves in the present, the point is to be there fully – to appreciate where we are to the fullest extent possible. This is wonderful and I’m not going to elaborate much further on this too much here just because we already have, apart from to say try it and see for yourself.
The Power of Now
As you may know if you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, I have a series of posts entitled ‘The Power of _________’ (fill in the blank) and, being fascinated by mindfulness, long intended to write an article entitled ‘The Power of Now’.
Then I learned that this is also the title of a book, and a very popular one at that. So I had to read it. In fact I just started reading it.
Anyway, being already sold on the concept of spending more time in the present, I was bound to agree with a lot of the wisdom from this book.
The question is, is it a good read? – and so far I’d have to say that it is. Here is the link to the book on Amazon if you’d like to check it out: The Power of Now (Exchardt Tolle). I’m far more into concepts, science, research and experiments than spirituality and this book is a little on the spiritual side, but not to scary proportions (though having just read a bit more about what’s to come & some of the reviews on Amazon I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot more spiritual as I get further into the book – let’s see – so far, so good).
If I can give you some distilled wisdom from that book which sums up a great deal of what I wanted to say about the power of now, it’s this:
I have searched and searched through the book for an exact quote from the book I wanted to give you, but, alas, I can’t find it. This is the essence of it though.
P.S. Here are some of the other ‘The Power of…’ articles in case you’re wondering:
Be More Dog
Another useful way to look at things is to study animals. There’s a TV campaign in the UK at the moment with the slogan ‘Be More Dog’. I love that slogan. We have a dog, and she definitely lives in the moment.
OK, so a caveat – this is definitely not about me advertising for O2 – I’m not with this provider and I have no clue how good their technology or service is, but quite aside from their company name flashing up at the end, there’s a lot of wisdom in this 1 minute video clip:
The clip is about a comparison between cats and dogs, but in fact if you look at it, I doubt whether many animals at all, cats included spend as much time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future as we humans do.
What do you think?
So ‘Be More Dog’ might be an amusing clip, but I do think we have something to learn from the animal kingdom at large.
If we take the fact that our minds are complicated and powerful devices and combine this with the fact that our thoughts shape our reality, it’s little wonder that when we let our minds wander and effectively take over control of things, we run into problems.
The solution is to be more mindful of our thoughts and when they start to wander into the past or the future, make sure that we are in control of this, only allowing our mind to take us to the past or the present when we give it our permission to.