My favourite ways to practice mindfulness

My favourite ways to practice mindfulness

You first need to discover that there is a voice in your head that talks all the time, comments on what you are doing, has fixed opinions and judgements, is very critical and negative. The good news is that the unobserved voice in your head is not you but when you believe the thoughts you suffer. Research has shown that we have something like 60,000 thoughts per day, yet 90% are repetitive and useless, and cause us suffering. Not only do we have no peace from a constantly “noisy” mind but when we believe the unrelenting thoughts of the mind we suffer. We need to awaken from the dream like state of the mind and not believe every thought we have, and begin to reality check our thoughts, relinquish useless thinking (of past, of future, of what we cannot control, of self rejection, of what others think and do) and to foster spaces of a still mind (thoughtless, alert awareness) that is more essentially us. In this way, we learn to tame our mind from a place of unrelenting noise, torture and anguish that we try to escape (through all manner of addictions) to a kind and peaceful resting home where we love to be and where thinking is optional (a state of desireless, spacious awareness). This is the journey. It is not easy however with every step there is a lightening of suffering and the sense of inner peace grows, and the momentum gathers without effort. It works.

Breath awareness:

Whenever you think of it throughout the day, take a few conscious breaths.  Use breathing to take attention away from thinking. The breath is formless and brings you in touch with your body. When you focus on breath, your mind becomes still.

Practice being the seer without the internal dialogue:

When you walk or do mundane activities, try to keep a quiet and still mind by not naming, describing, labelling, judging or classifying what you see.  Do not tell yourself what you already know.  Try to stop the internal running commentary in your mind and just be the watcher/the seer. Without imposing names or labels or judgements, try to look all around you with your senses while in a state of thoughtless awareness or alert stillness. Feel the spaciousness and aliveness. Occasionally thoughts come and go, and the spaciousness returns. Be aware of the gaps between the thoughts as the background consciousness to all thinking. Be aware of “no mind”.

Practice doing one thing at a time:

It is actually not possible to multi-task. Practice doing one thing at a time with quality and without judgement. Use your full attention, moment by moment, to do each task with quality. If your mind wanders, bring it back to task. Remember that the only place you touch life is now. The most important person in the world is the one you are with now. The most important job in the world is the one you are doing now. No thought is more important that what you are doing now. Don’t allow your mind to bleed in other thoughts that dilute your now. Don’t allow your mind to judge or complain about what you are doing now. Do it with full acceptance and without resistance. When you are in alignment with now, you are in alignment with universal consciousness or intelligence.

Listen mindfully:

Whenever you are speaking to another person, focus fully on listening and being totally present. If your mind wanders into mental dialogue, bring it back to listening. Don’t allow your mind to go into judgement, internal dialogue or preparing what you are going to say next. Just listen intently, and bring your mind back to task if it wanders. In this way, you connect fully with the speaker, you sit together in a space of pure perception or oneness, the sense of subject and object vanishes, the sense of time falls away, the sense of love and connectedness remains, and there is no greater intimacy without wanting. This is true love.

Acceptance – say “yes” to what is:

Say “yes” to what is – non-resistance – accept people, situations and circumstances as they occur and not how you would like them to be. Accept this moment just as it is. Do not judge or argue with what is. Do not say “no” to this moment and rather ask how I can embrace this moment and make the most out of it. Act like you had chosen this moment, it is good, indeed, it is the best thing ever. For example, it is raining – good! Someone just pushed in front of me in the traffic – good!

When you accept the seemingly bad, there is an allowing, an acceptance, a feeling of peace and space. There is no point fighting what is, then you are in resistance, and ultimately what is, is, as it should be. Reality rules and not how we would like it to be.

When you are confronted with a choice, there are three options. Yes I want to do it (easy- do it!). No I definitely don’t want to do it (easy- don’t do it!)  And I don’t really want to do it but I think I will regret it if I don’t and so I will do it (okay, do it!). In this last case, after due consideration, you say yes to do it and so it makes sense to surrender entirely to that yes and make the most out of it by trying to embrace it fully.

Acceptance or surrendering to what is, is hard to do. I find it helps me to accept the seemingly unacceptable by looking for the gifts in a situation. For example, a client cancels at the last minute – don’t react – look for the gifts – That’s great, I get some free time to do my errands, I could do with a break, etc.

I find it also very helpful to recognize the pointlessness of holding onto anything that is not in your control and therefore is not your responsibility.  For example, the client cancels – can I control what another person does – No – then let it go, there is nothing you can do and it is therefore not in your realm of responsibility. Don’t think about it. There is no point.

Indeed, everything around us is out of our control, everything comes and goes whether we like it or not, in that, we have no control what others say and do, what the future holds, what has already happened in the past, what others think, etc. To relinquish control sounds disturbing, but it is truly liberating to realise the truth that you never had control to start with.

Accepting the seemingly unacceptable – the isness of what is, here and now is the quickest way to inner peace – acceptance without judgement.

Relinquishing thought:

The most direct method to inner stillness (and the hardest) is to simply try and relinquish thought. By choice say to yourself there is nothing to think about and I won’t think for a while as I walk across the room or prepare a cup of tea. Thoughtless awareness or pure consciousness or presence or beingness is what is left behind when the mind stops. When you stop thinking you become aware of your own depth that has no end.

The aim of all these methods is to be in essence, internally quiet and still. There is no right way. Whatever works for you whether it be meditation, yoga, chanting, music, dance, prayer.