In order to be mindful, leave your mind out of it!
What does being mindful really mean? It’s about being aware; aware of everything that is going on within and without. When we’re mindful we experience the color of the sky, the green of the grass. We really see the blossoming of nature and smell the fragrance in the air. We feel the essence of another and see their soul within their eyes. To be mindful means we recognize that we’re part of the life energy that is all around us and within all things, including us. This understanding brings about a feeling of quiet joy, a feeling of reverence, a feeling of peace. This is bliss consciousness, and it can be yours!
Let me explain. Our mind has over 65,000 thoughts a day. Each and every day! Imagine the amount of words it takes to simply form that many thoughts. More than 95% of those thoughts are nothing more than repetition. Have you ever noticed that when you’re trying to solve a problem you just keep repeating yourself? In the course of the day we are constantly saying the same things to ourselves, over and over again. When the mind is full of noise there isn’t enough silence to hear what is being said let alone come up with a solution to a problem. In order to be mindful, we have to first quiet the mind.
When your mind becomes quiet you are aware of a deep feeling of peace.
Yes, there is peace down there, somewhere under those 65,000 thoughts. When the mind is that busy it’s pretty difficult to come up with the solution for a problem. How about trying to create something? Imagine the creative urge trying to get through the traffic jam of thoughts in the mind?
Again, once the mind has quieted down, there is a sense of peace. Now you can hear the messages of your inner self and become aware of your true feelings. Perhaps for the first time in your lives you begin to know who you really are. If, like so many of us, you feel that your life is all right, yet you suspect that something is missing, it’s most likely because you aren’t paying enough attention to yourself to even recognize your own needs. If you don’t know what you need how can you possibly satisfy yourself? Before you can get to this place of knowing yourself, you have to quiet your mind, you have to be mindful.
There are many ways to quiet the mind, and they all begin with awareness.
For example, are you aware of the constant chattering in you head? That non-stop yacking is so much a part of our lives that we don’t even recognize it. It’s like a background noise that annoyed you at first, but then you became accustomed to it. Can you imagine the relief you’ll have once you quiet that down?
How do you quiet your mind? The first thing to do is develop a relationship with the Observer. The Observer, or as some people refer to it, the Witness, is simply an impartial reporter. That’s it! This means that it doesn’t tell you you’re doing it wrong. It won’t tell you to do something better, or differently. Nor will it tell you not to feel something, or even to feel something else. The Observer will simply tell you what is going on, but, you have to learn to hear this voice. Believe me, that voice is always there; but the mind can be so noisy with the obsessive chatter that most of the time we don’t hear what it has to say.
To start to be mindful first make a conscious intention to listen to your Observer. You will then begin to hear what you are saying to yourself. Notice how that makes you feel. Recognize how often you project yourself into an imaginary future and see how often you go into the past with feelings of regret or remorse. You will notice how you keep yourself separate from others by judging them. You will know when you’re feeling frightened, sad or dissatisfied. Can you see how these thoughts keep you from being happy, or even content? Believe it. All of these things are constantly going on, only our minds are so busy we don’t have the time to recognize them when we’re not mindful.
Notice how often you’re in judgment. When you see ourselves judging, it’s good to stop for a moment and notice how it separates you from others. Each time you “size someone up”, you deprive yourselves of the opportunity to see or feel who that person really is. The act of judging presumes to know who they are. You can’t know the spirit of a person if you are busy judging them. Now take a breath and let your guard down. It’s the Guard that needs to do so much judging anyway. This brings us to another topic.
FEAR. Why do we need a Guard if we aren’t afraid? Don’t go thinking about this too much, because the answers to questions like this won’t help you to be mindful any more than projecting into the future or living in the past — or any of the other mental games we play. The idea is to notice when you’re feeling fearful. Once you’re aware of the fear and simply observe it, you naturally begin to render powerless the very thing that you’ve been afraid of. NOW you no longer need the Guard. When you aren’t guarded you become available to yourselves — and to others — as the Being you really are.
Our minds habitual tendency is to project itself into the future.
A future imagined is either better or worse. The mind goes into the past to reminisce about the way things used to be, often regretting that things have changed, or wishing something would have been done differently. It makes unconscious decisions today based upon events of the past. It constantly judges and compares everything around us, people, situations and events. It even judges us against ourselves. All of these thoughts bring you out of the present moment and keep you from living your life NOW. When truly present, we aren’t thinking, we’re being.
When the observer tells us that we’re projecting into the future, the mere act of observing is enough to bring ourselves back into a state of mindfulness, or present moment awareness. Once aware that we’ve been in judgement we suddenly find we have the space to recognize what we’ve been doing and redirect our attention into the present moment. Observe yourself feeling fear. This alone will allow you to “dis-identify” enough to lessen the fearful feelings. Remember, the Observer is the key to being mindful. The act of observing will, by itself, bring about a dramatic shift in your life.
Now that the Observer has let us know we aren’t present, what do we do? Take a breath!
It sounds so simple, so trite. Yet it is simple. That’s the true beauty of it! Just take a breath, but not the way we usually breathe. Most of us have forgotten how to breathe properly. Watch a baby breathe. The baby’s belly rises on the in-breath and falls on the out-breath. Now notice yourself take a deep breath. It’s just the opposite. On the in-breath most people suck in their diaphragm and puff out their chest. On the out-breath they allow their belly to fall forward. Try this. Take a deep “belly” breath and bring the air in through your nose and down into the bottom of your lungs. Allow your belly to balloon out. Now exhale and slightly contract your belly. This will get rid of the stale air in your lungs and make room for another clean breath. Now, do it again. Just take a breath. The oxygen alone is enough to help you feel calmer. The mystics know that breath is spirit. Remember the old saying, “Take a deep breath and count to 10.” It really does work — but first we want to “re-learn” how to breathe. We want to learn to breathe consciously.
Okay, now you are beginning to hear your Observer. What if it tells you that you aren’t present? This is what you do:
- Simply acknowledge what is happening and say to yourself, “Yes, I’m not present.” Don’t fight it, just acknowledge it and except it. Once you realize that you aren’t present, you are present!
- Take a deep belly breath, and then take another. Now another. This gives you the space to become centered and in touch with your essence. At this point any action you take will now come from a place of presence.
The question you might be asking yourself is, “Why do I want to be mindful? What am I missing?” Look back. Can you remember a time when one of your children was trying to tell you something, something that you now realize meant a lot to them, but you were too busy to really hear their message? How about a time when your mate — or your ex-mate — was telling you something that in retrospect, appears crystal clear. Again you weren’t present enough at the time to hear the essence of what they were saying and therefore really be there for them in the way they needed you. Or how about those old “woulda, coulda, shoulda” thoughts? Had you really been present during those times, you might have seen that which is so obvious to you now — and taken a different kind of action.
It’s not too late. As a matter of fact, the best time is NOW! Learn to be right here, right now. I can promise that you will notice more beauty then you ever thought possible. You’ll love more freely and receive more love in return. You’ll feel closer and be more comfortable in your relationships. When you’re with your friends and loved ones you will truly be with them. Those goals that have seemed so elusive may suddenly manifest. The miracles have been here all along, but you haven’t been. When you’re not present you’re not able to see the gifts that are all around you.
Make it a practice to check in with yourself daily. At first just do this three times a day. At those times simply ask, “What is going on with me right now?” The answers will surprise you. You will become aware of that critical voice inside. The one that strips you of your enthusiasm and convinces you that you just aren’t good enough. Once you begin to notice that voice, you will free up enormous amounts of energy. How does this happen? It happens simply through the act of observing. There is nothing to do but observe. Once you become aware of this, you will be amazed at how quickly that voice quiets down and eventually stops.
The healing has begun. The simple act of noticing creates the magic.
We notice when we are feeling fear, which allows us to feel less fearful. We notice ourselves judging, hence we feel more loving and connected to everyone and everything. We notice when we are tormenting ourselves with that inner critic and therefore we feel more accepting of ourselves exactly the way we are. We notice when we are projecting into the future and, because of this, we experience more joy in each and every moment. We notice when we are living in the past – and thus we are free of perceived past limitations. Now we are able to be mindful, now we are free to be present…now we are free to be.
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