What Is Mindfulness? Part 2

By Robert K Stephen

(TORONTO, ON) – I took a Mindfulness course at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. You may have attended mindfulness courses through a private provider or one offered by a hospital. You may have also read a few Mindfulness inspired books and gained some insights into your life. You might think the whole theory a load of hogwash.

My Take Aways may seem trivial to some and revelatory to others. That depends on your state of mind in the present moment.

Remember that Mindfulness sees life as a series of moments and how you treat and interact with these moments. You can be mindful of the moment or just steam on; ignoring it. I am not certain Mindfulness will enrich your life, but the odds are that at least it will force you to focus on your mind and the thoughts and reactions it generates.

Take Aways from the Course

Take some time for yourself every day

Many of us just bulldoze through our life not taking any regular quiet time to reflect on what our emotions have been and what we have done during the day. Did you say something unkind to a worker or family member? Where you so stressed out throughout the day all you did was react in the same way you always react? Did you do something showing compassion and empathy?

You need to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day to let your thoughts stream by, noting what you did in a non-judgemental way. In this way your brain relaxes and you do as well.

Realize what you have seen flowing throughout your mind is that which has occurred. Only you know the answer to that, but you have taken the time to at least quietly observe the moments of the day.

Watch out for those arrows

You’ve been wounded emotionally before and perhaps again today. But dealing with the pain of the wound can escalate to greater emotional turmoil once the self criticism starts.

“Oh what an idiot standing out in the open!”

“Why did I have to wear such bright clothing? What a fool!”

You see, whether in your work or personal life, one arrow is enough. The more arrows you shoot at yourself the worse your emotional state will be.

Avoid those automatic reactions

A situation arises. You’ve seen it before and, in many instances, you react automatically to it. If it has been unpleasant, yet another similar situation may increase the stress level. This is akin to being shot by the arrow of past experiences.

Those bad and stressful moments were in prior moments. You are in a new moment now. Take a deep breath and meditate for a few moments. You are facing a new moment and that can be better if you take a more positive twist such as, “This is a tough situation, but it is not identical to the past. Surely I can manipulate and restructure it to seek out some joy and pride how I handle it.”

Think of you as a driver. You can’t control what is ahead of you, but you can control how to respond to what is ahead of you. Let the unpleasant moments be what they are. Not much you can do about them, but self criticism about the route taken will only create more stress in a situation you had no control over.

Take some time to nourish yourself and create sanctuaries of nourishment

If you are living a miserable existence this will take a terrible toll on you. One of the reasons may be that you never considered yourself deserving of some special activity or time.

I have seen a few instances of people working themselves like Boxer in Orwell’s 1984 and saying life begins at retirement. Absolutely not.

Keep that attitude and see we’ll you in the cardiac ward with a stroke.

Do create a few sanctuaries for yourself, whether it be taking a walk at lunchtime or working out at the gym. No Blackberry after dinner. You simply must have a sanctuary of peace that withstands personal or business pressures, or you will be eaten alive by your own mind.

There are thousands of moments in each day

Do you fight them, or should you just accept them as they are in the moment and just move on? The more you deal and fight the unpleasant moments the more you miss the pleasant moments of life.

You could be involved in some commercial transaction with the devil. Focus on the fact you are dealing with the devil you may lose track of the fun of dealing with those other members of the team that make battling the devil a battle worth winning.

What’s going on out there?

You really need to cultivate awareness of what is out there. Particularly of importance are your bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, and urges. These can be both bad and good, but awareness of them puts you in a position where you are at least cognizant of them.

Awareness is power.

The voices that never shut up

These are the voices in your head that never stop alerting you to threat and danger; the self critic, the coach that tells us what we can’t do, etc. Be aware of their limiting and negative potential.

Making choices

We have it within us to make choices about how we spend time and interact with the world. It means making our days feel more deliberate rather than feeling flooded by various challenges with which we might have to cope.

It means making choices about what attitudes to bring with us to our encounters in the world.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen