Have you ever felt the need to be more aware of the present moment, to be more calm or more focused? Most people today have trouble fully focusing on moment-to-moment experience. We are either anxious about what the future might bring or we dwell on the past, ruminating on what we could have done or what might have been. We don’t have enough mind space for pure awareness of the present, with all these thoughts of the past or future – thoughts that are either pleasant or unpleasant. We are often unable to regulate and manage our emotions and are thus overcome by anger, passion, fear etc., especially and ironically in situations that require us to be more calm and balanced. We are also easily distracted by the intrusive technologies that we’ve come to depend on. This mind, oh this monkey mind – we often want one thing and our mind seems to want something else entirely. Haven’t you ever mused that if only you could rein in your mind and take control of its behavioural patterns, you could do so much more with your life? On those occasions when you experienced complete concentration and focused on a task, fully immersed, oblivious to all the external noise; when you were in “the zone”, “in flow”, with no internal chatter about anything else, didn’t you wish you could experience that always? Simply put, we could become much better versions of our current selves, we could be everything we ever aspired to be… if only we could understand the mind and train it to do our bidding.
If you relate even partly to this, you certainly aren’t alone. Mindlessness is fast pervading into all strata of society. Especially urban and supposedly progressive society. There is nothing particularly wrong with you from the standpoint of conventional medicine or primary healthcare. You are not going to be diagnosed with any illnesses or conditions unless you have symptoms that are severely debilitating or if your anxiety and stress are manifesting as psychosomatic ailments (physical symptoms or ailments that stem from or are exacerbated by psychological factors). You represent the majority and are considered “normal” on all counts. Yet you know deep inside that this is not how you should be living; this is not how it was all intended. You could be so much more. Your life could have so much more focus, meaning and purpose.
What can you do to break this endless cycle of mindless living – of waking up, moving frenetically through the day, fretting about tomorrow and not ever living fully in the present? Well, you could train yourself to be more “mindful”. But what does that even mean? What is mindfulness? – Simply put, it is the art of living in the present moment – with complete awareness of the here and now, with a clear and calm mind, free of negativity, completely focused on what you are engaged in through moment to moment experience. It is freedom. Freedom from the shackles of the past and the burdens of the future. If you think about it, you can only ever live in the present moment, so you might as well get it right and give it full attention. The past is gone forever and the future is yet to reveal itself. So live in the present and enjoy this beautiful gift of life fully.
Sound great? Hang on a minute though! Mindfulness is certainly not about throwing your hands up and hiding from the “real” world. When we say live in the present moment, we don’t mean that you should make no plans for the future or fail to acknowledge experience. That’s not it at all. Make all the plans and preparations necessary to fulfill all your life goals. Don’t stop living. By living in a state of pure mindfulness you can live a full, happy life today and still plan for a successful tomorrow. Mindfulness is about being fully engaged, bringing all your mental faculties, knowledge, abilities and even compassion and love into everything you do and every person you engage with, with an open mind. Mindfulness is often defined as non-judgemental awareness – that means being fully aware of the present moment, as it is, without your mind tainting your perception and experience of it in anyway; without your mind distracting you from fully experiencing the moment by spewing out incessant peripheral chatter. To illustrate – you can plan without living in anxiety about whether those plans will see fruition. You can work towards your deadlines without fretting about whether you’ll ever be able to meet them. You can fail at something and learn from it, without disappointment or shame weighing you down. You can pay attention to what someone is saying or doing without immediately judging him or her. You can succeed and enjoy your moment of success without being unnecessarily attached to it. Mindfulness helps you fully engage with the world, yet not be overly attached or averse to it. In a world where everything is in constant flux, this is wise way to live.
It all sounds easier said than done, doesn’t it? So how does one become more mindful? Or shall we say less mindless? Various meditation techniques have been used by mankind through the ages (the earliest known records of meditation date back to 1500 BCE). These techniques have been used by our ancestors to train their mind to be more present, calm and balanced; to attain what one might now consider highly enhanced levels of concentration, clarity, focus and insight into themselves, into their mind and deeper realities. Insight into how to live a life of meaning and purpose – what many of us severely lack but are very keen to find. Science has caught up with this ancient wisdom today, mindfulness is now an exciting area of research. Not only is there evidence that mindfulness has the aforementioned benefits in the mental realm, but it is also known to have a cascading effect on overall well-being, improving cardiovascular health, enhancing immunity, reducing inflammation and slowing the effects of ageing. With these ancient meditative techniques and present day science coming together nicely, it appears that humans could well be on the cusp of a revolution, a new frontier in well-being and overall progress as a species.
Join our mindfulness workshops and meditation classes to explore and delve deeper into this exciting space and to equip yourself with the tools and techniques that will allow you to lead a fuller, more enriching, meaningful and purposeful life.