Being Mindful is not always easy.
Mindfulness has become the new “buzz” word that seems to be thrown around a lot lately.
I’d like to say I practice meditation and mindfulness regularly, I really would and sometimes I really do. Keeping up the habit is incredibly hard in this fast pace world we live in. Like everyone else I often find myself “too busy” to meditate or be mindful and in the present now.
With this in mind, and being a true believer of practicing what I preach to my clients, I decided to give myself a boost and took myself away recently on a 3 day “noble” silence retreat.
On arrival, the serenity and peacefulness of the Buddhist Retreat Centre immediately embraced me, I imagined my mind would quickly follow suit and enter into a mindful space of peace and tranquility.
If only this where true, like many practices that benefit us, meditation and mindfulness takes time, perseverance and dedication. After a couple of hours of silence, rather than my mind deciding to go quietly into a state of relaxation, it did the complete opposite. Jabbering away faster than ever, my mind jumping from past to present and then a sudden sprint into the future… Every time I thought I had it under control it would suddenly fool me and I’d be thinking about a document I need to forward or the holiday I need to book in December or what colour shoes I should wear on Saturday with my new red dress..and all of these without any warning.
Instead of my mind quietening it had entered “over drive” mode. I didn’t realise it had another higher gear to go up to, but it did.
I persevered through day 1 with little change. However, during day 2 things where certainly beginning to shift and by day 3 I can honestly say I was feeling and experience things differently.
My mind was still “thinking” but I was learning the ability not to grab on to these thoughts and appreciating that the journey is often the experience to treasure and not the destination we aim for.
By the time I left the retreat I truly felt more at peace. I still hadn’t decided what shoes to wear and remembered a trillion other things I needed to do when I returned to the fast pace world we live in. The difference was though, my thoughts where no longer important, I was no longer hanging on to them. They didn’t have the weight of importance that I’d originally attached to them… This is what had shifted. What is important to me in the “now”, what can I actually change “now”, what can I fully appreciate “now”.
I strongly believe the fact that we find it so difficult being mindful or to meditate is even more reason why we need to do it. Remember the most enlightened of us can have times when they battle to be mindful. As someone once said to me “if we have a mind we will think”. What we need to start doing is being “ok” with those thoughts that enter our mind, acknowledge them but don’t hold on to them. When we stop trying to control our mind the mind will stop trying to control us.
Keep in mind:
Being mindful takes effort – we have programmed our brains to be ‘busy’
It’s ok to be distracted – don’t beat yourself up about it, just acknowledge and then return back to the now
It may take time: that’s ok, just keep trying and enjoy the journey
If you feel like giving up, that’s ok but don’t
You may not feel the progress or benefits immediately, but they are happening
Sometimes you’re just too busy, even more reason to STOP for a moment.
“Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others and in motivating them toward shared goals. Hence they become more effective in leadership roles.” William George, Harvard Business School Professor