Our minds are very busy places. This is not a problem when we want to be creative. But when it is out of control, it increases stress and cuts us off from our power to make good choices. Lynda Hoffman Life Coaching in Montreal can help you realise how being in the moment and being mindful of your current actions can help you improve the quality of your life.
“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
The Cost of a Wandering Mind
The cost of a wandering mind is real. It can lead to physical injuries, weaker relationships, difficulties with physical intimacy, overeating, financial challenges and underperformance at work – just to name a few examples.
It also costs us emotionally. The journal Science says that, “… a wandering mind is an unhappy mind…” Pleasant thoughts (that are not about the present moment) reduce our happiness.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, helps us be aware when we are caught up in a cycle of unhelpful thinking.
With mindfulness, you can expect improved:
Mindfulness and Spirituality: Another Plus
Many find there is a spiritual awakening that comes with mindfulness. It cultivates a more open and expansive view of ourselves and the world. With practice, we come out of the storyline that dominates our thoughts and reconnect with what is really going on inside of us. When we connect with ourselves fully like this, we also connect to the larger mystery of being alive.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness definition: the ability to pay attention to the present moment purposefully, with an attitude of curiosity and compassionate non-judgment.
Mindfulness is essentially the cultivation of an awareness of yourself in the present moment. It involves:
What Mindfulness Is Not
Mindfulness is not:
Here’s How It Works
Human beings were designed to survive. Our default modes are to scan for trouble and find a way out. This is helpful in situations when fighting or defending is appropriate. But the reality is that most of our existence in the modern world requires more finesse. To navigate our lives effectively, we need to draw on a set of complex cognitive and emotional skills.
Going Deeper Still
Each of these benefits is only possible because of the improved executive functioning (EF) that comes from practicing mindfulness techniques. This is because EF is what allows you to set goals and stay on course until you have met them. Collectively, they are literally the power that allows you to direct the course of your life.
Mindfulness and Executive Functioning
Mindfulness training allows us access these inner tools. When we have one EF skill that is too strong or too weak, it hijacks our best efforts. (People with ADHD live with this frustration daily, but it is relevant for all of us.) For example, we all know what it is like to forget about an appointment. Weak working memory or poor planning can affect us when we lose focus in the moment.
In short, mindfulness is associated with strong focus, self-monitoring and emotional control. These EF skills act like core muscles in your body, providing a source of stability and energy.
Studies show that it is possible to strengthen these core EF skills through mindfulness meditation.
How to Practice Mindfulness?
There are a number of mindfulness exercises you can do to bring ease and awareness into your day:
Practice curiosity and non-judgment
Choose to bring an attitude of curiosity to your day. For example, when the barista at your cafe is barking at you, simply observe him/her and wonder what else is going on for them in that moment? Without judging yourself or them, notice is what is going on inside of you too.
Slowing down gives your mind and body a moment to get back into sync.
“When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat.”
– Shunryu Suzuki
Build in pauses
Take 30 seconds to pause during the day. Breathe deeply and scan your body with curiosity and non-judgment. Then, decide where you want your attention to go.
These can be worded a way that reminds of your intention to be mindful. For example, “Quiet mind”, “Creative”, “There is no problem”, “Just this breath”, “Just this moment”, “There is only here and now.”
Make friends with your “observer”
Have you ever noticed that the observer in your mind watching your pain or anxiety is itself never anxious? This is because the calm you are looking for is actually already here. The more you notice your observer noticing you, the more distance you build between you and reactivity.
Accepting the present moment can feel hard to do when you are in pain or triggered. Yet, acceptance is precisely what will reduce the intensity of the experience. Notice any resistance you may be holding inside of you. It can feel like fear, a tightening in your muscles, or a desire to distract yourself. You can acknowledge it saying, “Ah, this too”. Watch it pass.
Embrace a meditation practice
Like an athlete trains muscles for strength and agility, you can train your mind to become calmer, more focused and flexible. Here are a few ways you can do that:
Tips for Recognizing When You Are Not in the Present Moment
When you are pausing during your day, watch for the following:
A Call to Personal Action
What is your intention for becoming more mindful? Contact me if you would like to talk about how coaching can help you be courageously present.
“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.”
– Tara Brach