They say that life is a journey...
...but the problem with that metaphor is that journeys are often more about 'getting somewhere' than enjoying the ride. So with this post I wanted to highlight, just like Alan Watts does, below, how life can be more like an adventure, a road trip, or even a symphony, with a little sprinkling of mindfulness practice.
How can mindfulness help us?
There are five key ways:
1. We train the brain to pause, and take in what is happening now, this directs our attention.
2. We learn to savour each experience for what it is, bringing us into appreciation.
3. We realise that difficult experiences are valuable lessons, and so we focus on the teachings!
4. We relax as we begin to understand that pain is inevitable and useful, but suffering is our choice. We learn how to choose how we use the mind; relaxing our anxiety around pain because we know how to reduce our mental suffering.
5. We create joy in the process of making goals and plans without getting caught up in them as 'needs' but instead as things we 'would like'. This enables us to enjoy the journey and explore how and why we are doing them, instead of just obsessing about the outcome and worrying about scarcity of time and resources.
What stops us enjoying the process?
Well simply put, thinking. More precisely repetitive judgements that create guilt, worry, resentment or regret. We don't know how to change the thoughts so instead we either blame others (or the world) or we blame ourselves. We try and shut off thinking with distraction, using things like food, television, internet etc. This only works short term.
Mindfulness combined with self enquiry and positive thinking!
We've found that when learning to direct attention using meditation is just the beginning of a journey of self discovery. Negative thinking soon becomes apparent and we let our students know, YOU CANNOT STOP THINKING. Instead you can change the relationship with thinking and re-frame the thoughts, repetitively. We teach simple tools to help you with this and gradually we find more peace with our mental suffering. Each moment in life becomes a lesson when we integrate these mindful approaches.
More peace becomes more positive action!
A panicked mind makes poor choices. A calm mind makes wiser decisions. We also begin to teach people to make plans, from a place of peace., so we can enjoy the process of making plans and relax our hold on the outcomes. When we are living our values and focusing on learning, the outcomes become less important. The paradoxical thing is, when we hold these attitudes it becomes more likely to get the outcomes we desire!
The trick is to realise that happiness is always available right now, by practising mindfulness, self-enquiry and positive psychology. Once we have found that happiness 'now' the rest of the work is much more simple. Then we can begin to take on the the real challenging adventures of life like: 'creating a meaningful life of love.'
We hope you join us for a course or coaching soon and discover how mindfulness can help you feel great!
We run them at Bristol City Yoga.
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com