Welcome to mindfulness for beginners! Your life consists of three stages - your past, your future and your present. The only reality in your life is the here and now. Learn to channel your mind body connection to the present moment and experience the power of now. You do this by practising the mindfulness exercises which I will describe in this subsection.
In this chapter you will learn to bring your mind to the present moment.
The practice of mindfulness was inherited from the Buddhist tradition. Mindfulness is about maintaining a constant awareness of one’s body, feelings and of our surroundings.
This is how Tara Brach explained mindfulness during a Skype call interview with Deborah Kory for psychotherapy.net.
“Mindfulness is a way of paying attention moment-to-moment to what's happening within and around us without judgment. So, said differently, when we attend to the moment-to-moment”.
Being in mindfulness or awareness means paying attention to life just as it is in this moment thereby gaining an insight into the nature of your reality. It is a meditative state of mind and it falls under the “insight meditation” type group.
There are several forms of meditation which I will explain in the next subsection “Mind Control Methods”.
Entering into a state of mindfulness, does not necessarily mean sitting in the lotus position. You can practice mindfulness at any moment and while doing anything in your day to day life.
This is how the The Zen Sutra of Mindfulness explains mindfulness for beginners;
"When walking, the practitioner [of mindfulness] must be conscious that he is walking. When sitting, the practitioner must be conscious that he is sitting. When lying down, the practitioner must be conscious that he is lying down... No matter what position one's body is in, the practitioner must be conscious of that position. Practicing thus, the practitioner lives in direct and constant mindfulness of the body... ".
In one of her talks entitled “Presence and Aliveness”, Tara Brach explains the concept of coming home. She explains that when you rest in a state of awareness, you are bringing the mind home to the body. I like it because this is exactly what it is. You became aware of your body in this moment, in the now.
In my section, The Power of Now, I explained that you have three periods in your life; your past, your future and the present. Your past is not real and your future is an uncertainty. The only reality is the present moment, the now. The further that you get from the now, the more uncertain things become. Your mind leaves “home” and you go into auto pilot. When you are in auto pilot mode, you are controlled by your sub conscious mind programming.
Read my section on Virus of the Mind for an understanding of how your sub-conscious mind programming influences your assumptions about your future. These assumptions are no more than guess work about what may or may not happen in the future.
The only thing that shapes the future is what you choose to do right here right now. Most of our lives we run around lost in our thoughts and we disconnect from the present.
Each day, we need to turn off our “auto pilot” and bring our mind home.
Here is how you exercise mindfulness for beginners:
We live our modern lives in a virtual reality of computers, internet, e-mail and cellular phones. James Joyce once wrote “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” Our mind, like Mr Duffy lives away from “home” most of the time.
It is our mind that makes our lives “homeless”. So during the day, practise mindfulness and bring your mind home to your body, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Just being aware of your surroundings, just allowing it, not adding judgement or commentary.
Start to notice your breathing, feel your body, feel how your foot comes into contact with the surface that you are walking on, feel the aliveness of the body. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
While you are reading this page on your computer, feel how your fingers interact with the keyboard and how the mouse or touchpad feels in your hand or on your finger.
Pay attention to your body and to everything around you. Bring your mind home to here and now.
Make sure that your cellular phone is switched off and that your land line if off the hook. Eliminate all other potential disturbances.
Do this for 10 minutes once a day.
Get into the habit of taking yourself out of your habitual thinking patterns and bring yourself back home.
This page on Mindfulness for Beginners is part of the section on the Mind Body Connection. In the next chapter you will learn about controlling your own mind.