Would you like to achieve more success with less effort? Me too!
This is the intention with which we practice mindfulness. We use curiosity and compassion to fully inhabit our lived experience, gradually increasing our calmness, connectedness and creativity. Once only for trippy hippies and ash-dressed aesthetics, mindfulness is now supported by a growing body of scientific evidence showing that it significantly improves physical, mental and emotional health.
As mindfulness goes mainstream, its definition expands and the boundaries between similar practices blur. This is understandable because most variations aim to clear and strengthen the mind-body-heart. Let’s link this to two other common practices…
We all bath or shower regularly. We do this because we know that the body gets dirty and smelly during the course of daily life, and we want to protect it from germs while inviting more pleasant interactions with other people. Many of us also exercise regularly, perhaps at a gym. Even though we (me) may postpone and moan about working out, we do it anyway because it keeps us strong, energetic and attractive. So, here we have two common, frequent practices to maintain the body. What do we do for the mind?
Imagine if you had a similar practice for the mind, that had no other outcome but to take care of the mind (work doesn’t really count as mind-gym). Imagine a mind-shower to clear out stinky thought patterns and a mind-gym to build attention. Do you think your mind might like this? Comment below!
Start easy, repeat often
When you start exercising again after a long period of couch-potato-ness (we’ve all been there), you start slowly because it’s uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. We start gently and gradually build up our strength through regular, repeated sessions.
Let’s try this with the mind. Imagine you are lifting weights… bring your attention to the sensation of the breath moving around the tip of your nose and mouth. Each time the mind wanders, you bring it back. That’s one rep. Now repeat this for 3 minutes. It does not matter how many times the mind wanders. What matters is how many times you notice this and coax it back. Just as lifting the weight strengthens muscle, bringing the attention back strengthens the mind.
Start with 3 minutes; no more. Try it every day for a week. For me, this is best done as soon as I wake up. I sit up in bed and take a mind-shower/mind-gym. (It’s important to sit up otherwise you might fall asleep, which is not helpful.) So sit up, and then kindly watch your breath for 3 minutes. Please comment below to let me know how it goes.
Just as your body responds best to specific exercises, your mind may also have its preferred type of mindful practice. Our next post will explore different types/aspects of mindfulness, so you can find your fit!
Yagesh is an actuary and yogini, devoted to building a wellbeing economy. Contact her for personalised lessons or corporate workshops.
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