Try Mindfulness

30 March, 2014

How would life be, if you could make your weekends longer and more joyful, and you were more productive and efficient in your work as well?

I mentioned in my last newsletter I was attending a Mindfulness course at the end of March, and I've been waiting to tell you about it. It was a two day workshop with Dr Craig Hassed from Monash University. A doctor and an academic, he was a trainer completely congruous with his message: a rare find that I have only ever experienced in just a handful of trainers. He was the embodiment of who I imagined a 'mindful' person to be: calm, centred, plenty of stamina and energy, humourous and incredibly knowledgeable about his subject.

It would be hard to sum mindfulness up in a blogpost, and anyway if you want to know more you can read the Monarsh University's webpage about it. Or listen to any number of free talks by Tara Brach, whom I have referenced a number of times here. Needless to say the numerous benefits of practising mindfulness on a day-to-day basis are backed up by extensive research, spanning from health, overcoming depression, managing stress to engagment and productivity in the workplace. What I'd like to share is what I came away with and what difference it's making already.

As you know, I've taught many of you about the 60,000 thoughts your brain is capable of having per day, and how only 1% of these are actually useful to us. I've taught many of you meditations and processes that help quieten the 'puppy-mind' and bring about more space and peace. I've also taught many of you relaxation processes to bring your attention into the body and away from the head. I've helped most people that have come to see me manage their internal dialogue better. And I know a lot of you still listen to your self-compassion recordings! And I stand by all of these understandings and practices.

AND what I have managed to learn - in a new and significant way - has put a number of things together for me in a way I now fully get. Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose, in a very non-judgemental way, and practising staying in the present moment through focusing your attention inside the body (as oppose to the head). You practice this in formal ways (meditation in the chair) and informal (prioritising your focus at points during the day). No matter what thought pattern or emotion or feeling of tension or reaction comes up, you simply observe non-judgmentally, and then refocus the attention back where you want it - in the present moment, whatever your priority is at that very moment.

I've been fascinated by the repetitive 'trains of thought' that my brain is capable of! Every 3-5 seconds in my formal practice, it's off, time-travelling. By being purposefully mindful since Thursday evening of these 'trains of thoughts' and various body-reactions, I have noticed how amazingly boring most of them are. Yet certain patterns reoccur every 5 seconds. So, no matter what, I've just been bringing the attention back to my body, my breath, and reprioritising my focus of attention. Usually my brain needs reigning in again in a very short while. And again, I bring it back to the body, or to my senses. I have realised I am capable of not getting on the train, and letting it ride right past, without getting involved. I know that sooner or later my brain will realise that there's no one at the station any more, and take the service off the line.

I know I knew this already. Yet something about the timing of this has meant I now know it in a deep way. And the effects from just a few days are obvious to me already. I feel grounded and calm. I feel that time has expanded. And I feel I can just move through my busy Monday tomorrow one thing at a time, without getting stressed out at all.

Of course, the real test is the test of time, and the consistency of practice. I shall report back. For now, I am incredibly grateful to Dr Craig Hassed and for all he shared of himself and his knowledge. Thank you.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback here.


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