I remember that many years ago the concept of meditating was abstract to me. I couldn’t focus on one thing for more than few seconds when meditating. A constant flow of thoughts came from every angle. And a sentence repeated in my head “Think about nothing, THINK ABOUT NOTHING, …”, and a laughing tone answered to that request, from my deepest source of wisdom and enlightenment: “YEAH, RIGHT!”
I had no idea how to meditate, and I was trying to do it in the wrong way. Also, my mind was extremely busy and distracted, and still is, but less so now. I also have more control now, so I can choose when to focus and when to let my thoughts and imagination travel to the lands of ideas and abstract concepts. That helps in a creative process, in fact, in many areas of life.
“I cannot meditate”
For some reason back in the day, I had the wrong impression about meditating. I was saying to myself: I cannot meditate and I will never be able to do that, so I gave up on the idea for a long time. I was saying to myself: I can meditate in my own way. Which in my case was creating music, and playing basketball. During those activities, I feel fully present. When I do that, I’m focused on one thing at a time. It feels like time doesn’t exist, you don’t think about the external world. It’s a feeling of constant flow, like in one of my previous jobs. I’m only joking; it’s actually a very opposite feeling.
When you’re drawing, painting, dancing, doing some sport, reading an interesting book, if you have some hobby, or if you have the job you love, you know what I’m talking about. So, I was saying to myself: Music and sport are my meditation practices.
It’s great to be fully present when doing certain activities, especially when you like them, and it’s more than highly beneficial for your mental health. However, mindfulness is more than that. Practicing mindfulness meditation brings much more into your life. You are becoming more aware of yourself, about people around, about reality in general. You start seeing the true nature of the world you live in. At some point, you become more aware of your feelings and thoughts, and what’s more important, you will find what to do with those thoughts and feelings. The quality of your self-reflection improves. You will be able to find space and you start realising that you have a choice of how to react in many situations.
Sometimes we have a tendency to be on “autopilot”. We do many things the same way and react in the same way to certain situations. Which is not always the way we want to react. However in most cases, we realise that our reaction wasn’t great, but it’s too late. Do you remember when you said something to someone, and you regretted this right after? I do.
By practicing mindfulness, your choices are going to be smarter for you, and people around, as you might not be dragged along by automated habits from the past. In general, you will have more control over your emotions, so your stress level will be lower and you will become more balanced. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advising you to suppress emotions. That’s even worse. I’m saying only that you will learn how to react in a healthier way in some situations.
Imagine that you are in a car and someone’s cut you off. Many people react by yelling, swearing, or doing some funny gestures.
I’m sure you see this sometimes, or perhaps you might be that driver who has lost control of your emotions at some point. In that situation your blood pressure is rising, you feel angry and the feeling afterward is not so great neither. It’s unnecessary stress, in my opinion. There is no reason to react that way. By practicing mindfulness you have a choice how to react. Even when you catch yourself that you start swearing, you can stop, notice your behavior, and just start focusing on your breathing. Also, try to imagine that maybe someone from another car needs to go quickly to the toilet. Probably not, but thinking about this situation differently will help you to release the tension and will decrease your stress level. Simple as that.
Why practice mindfulness?
To summarise, here are just a few reasons why you should practice mindfulness:
Your stress level will decrease
You will become more productive
You will become more creative
You will cultivate positive thoughts
You will respond more wisely to external stimuli
And many more…
Mindfulness is not a magic tool, however, if you practice, you may notice some changes in your life. Imagine that you could feel more balanced, relaxed and focused – All at once. Imagine that you are no longer a servant of the automatic habitual behaviours, patterns, and decisions you make. Imagine that you could think more independently, creatively and just simply feel happier. Imagine that you could have a real choice about what to do in your life, and how to act.
And ask yourself:
What would I do, if I would be able to feel like that?