Theories on ‘mindfulness’

I’ve never been very good at meditation. Sitting still for 5 minutes and not thinking? Every time I’ve tried I end up stressing about trying not to think.

But I know that meditation and practicing mindfulness is good for you. There have been countless books written on the subject in the past few years, I’ve read several of them and am totally on board with the theory of practicing mindfulness for a happy life.

However, for the meditation-challenged like me, I have found a couple of cheats — fool proof ways to achieve that state of mindfulness without even trying!

Actually, I have a theory that certain activities are so enjoyable for humans precisely because they induce a mindful state. What I mean to say is, the activity in itself whilst enjoyable, we love and seek out so much because without realising, for that period of time we are experiencing the type of transcendence that monks and buddhists who spend hours sitting with their legs crossed do.

One of these activities is music. I adore live music, and always feel energised, happy, and fulfilled after leaving a gig. Some of my best memories are from seeing bands and artists that I love. For that couple of hours, i am totally immersed in the music and what is happening on the stage, not once does my mind wander to random thoughts of chores I need to do or…hey look I’m meditating!

Another activity that allows me to clear my mind for a period of time is exercise. Now see here, I actually do not like exercise and would completely avoid it if it weren’t for wanting to make up for the stupid number of calories I consume… but low and behold whilst I’m out there for a jog or jumping around in the gym, I’m focusing on what Im doing (and on not dying) without even trying. Hello mindfulness! Not surprisingly, I find the most effective type of exercise for achieving this is yoga. Even if you scrap all of the spiritual side of yoga, the fact that you need to concentrate hard to hold the poses without falling over means that for that hour long yoga class, you are by default freeing your mind of any distractions.

My love of travel also fits into my ‘activities being awesome due to the side-effect of mindfulness’ theory. I adore being dropped in a foreign city and just going exploring. The fact that everything is new and novel means all my senses are open to what’s in front of me, totally in the moment. Every corner turned, every new sight, every new taste has my full attention and it feels like I’m really tuned into the ‘hear and now’.

So, I’m going to take my theory and make a conscious effort to make more time in my life for my “mindful” activities, perhaps not accidentally finding enlightenment, but at least spending more of my time being happy and at peace.

What things do you like to do that could be attributed to its ability to make you switch off the internal noise, tune in, and be fully present? Be it baking, gardening, cutting loose on the dance floor, reading… Do more of that!

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