I had a flu last week and that meant lots of time spent lying in bed. So, I had some spare time to dig into a subject that's been interesting me for a while now, mindfulness.
Usually, the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions mindfulness is a bald guy sitting on a floor surrounded by incenses and maybe levitating. Have to admit, that I've also had my doubts about this and still have some.
Since I'm quite rookie in this whole thing I can't preach about the benefits of mindfulness nor can't say that it's complete nonsense. But if someone's interested in this subject but hasn't researched it yet, here's a quick summary of what I've come up with.
What is mindfulness?
I've watched few hours worth of TED talks, random vlogs and read over a dozen articles about mindfulness. And if I'd had to sum up the main message in almost all of these, it's that mindfulness is now. That sounds like too simple argument and kind of makes no sense at all. But actually, it makes a lot of sense.
Your mindset consists of three main factors: the past, the present and the future. If you forget about those two factors that you can't do anything about, you'll only have the middle one. The present. And that's actually the tool to influence in those two other factors. I haven't still found the way to completely change future, but I've started to learn how to react when it happens.
So basically the key in mindfulness (so far that I know of) is to stay focused on what's happening right now.
Before I started digging into this I thought that mindfulness equals meditation. Apparently, that's not the point. Meditation is just one way to get to that state of mind.
One researcher used an easy to understand example of a trip to somewhere (in this case, the destination is mindfulness). There are many ways to get to that place. You can drive, walk, fly, row or use whatever method you like to get there. And normally you choose the one that's the most convenient.
In achieving mindfulness, meditation is only one of those traveling methods.
How to get there?
It's kind of annoying that all instructions how to achieve mindfulness that I've found so far are so simple that they are almost too easy to understand. It's way easier to make a cake with recipe. First, you get the right ingredients, then you mix them, bake them and you have a cake.
In mindfulness, your ingredients are time and breathing. Your mixing and baking method is basically doing nothing. And your result is something you can't get into your hands right away. The baking time makes this even more difficult. According to mindful-gurus, the baking time is usually your entire life.
If this whole thing is so easy, why aren't we all doing it? Speaking for myself the reason is simply laziness and lack of time. In fact, the latter is a made up excuse and the first one just is what it is.
How I see mindfulness after this short few days research, it's a game that you can (and should) play 24/7. Daily meditation sessions must be helpful to get into this game. But in the long run, elevating your awareness levels in everyday life is the key. So if it's something you can do all the time, then you shouldn't have problem finding time for doing it.
Many researchers talk about human beings autopilot mode and how that's preventing us from realizing what's happening around us. There are lots of scientific studies proving that an average person spends almost 50% of its entire life in an unaware state of mind. Here's actually a really good speech by Ellen Langer about mindfulness and mindlessness:
And as I'm a tech geek I'm trying to use technology as my mindfulness accessory. So far I've tried few apps but it takes a bit longer before I can make an honest review about those.
I'd also like to remind that I'm still in truly beginner mode with all this stuff. Some of my perceptions might be totally wrong. But this is definitely an interesting subject and I will be posting about my progress in future.