Have you ever driven your car somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realise you remember nothing about your journey? Or started eating a packet of crisps and then suddenly noticed all you had left in your hands was an empty packet? Most of us have!
These are some common examples of ‘mindlessness’ – A state we
also often refer to as being on ‘autopilot.’
On autopilot we tend to get lost in ‘doing’ so we find ourselves constantly striving and struggling and ‘getting stuff done’ instead of really living. We tend to live so much of our lives on autopilot that
it can feel as though our minds have a will of their own and that we have no control over the thoughts that come to us.
We also become vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity.
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How mindfulness can help you
Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness.
It means waking up out of autopilot and ‘taking the steering wheel’ of our attention again. It can provide us with the tools to learn to become the master, and not the slave, of our minds.
We practice mindfulness by maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment.
Mindfulness also involves non-judgment, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings with the attitude of an impartial witness — without believing them or taking them personally.
We can begin to recognise the ways in which we contribute to our own discontent and can decide to make a change.
Mindfulness meditation offers us that opportunity.
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Background to Mindfulness
This form of meditation practice stems primarily from the Buddhist tradition and was intended as a means of cultivating greater awareness and wisdom, helping people to live each moment of their lives as fully as possible.
While some forms of meditation involve focusing on a sound or phrase in order to reduce distracting thoughts, mindfulness training does the opposite. In mindfulness meditation, you don't ignore distracting thoughts, sensations or physical discomfort, rather, you focus on them.
Don’t just take our word for it ...
"Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving
the exquisite vividness of each moment..."
“If you try to calm [the mind], it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline, you have to practice it.”
- Steve Jobs
“Through mental training you can increase positive thoughts and can reduce negative thoughts. I can tell you, with conviction, through effort we can change our mental attitudes”
“I never cam upon an of my discoveries through the
process of rational thinking”
- Albert Einstein
If we can just let go and trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself”
- Goldie Hawn
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it wont).”
- James Baraz
“You cant stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”
- Jon Kabat-Zinn