Mindfulness – Part of the Secret to Success?

Change does not come easy!

For some people it is easier than others. As a follow up to last weeks blog this is about a particular aspect that is important when trying to bring about change: being mindful.

Glass Ceiling

Dial into the here and now. image by Mitchell Kearney

When searching for the term Google comes up with the following definition:

conscious or aware of something.
“we can be more mindful of the energy we use to heat our homes”
synonyms: aware, conscious, sensible, alive, alert, acquainted, heedful, wary, chary; informalwise, hip; formalcognizant, regardful

According to McGonigol (2014) our brain seems to have a natural default state. That state is busy with thinking about the past, the future, the impact things will have, etc. Whenever we stop being busy and active, for example when we go to bed all of a sudden our brain goes into overdrive and we cannot fall asleep anymore because we worry about the future, what the impact of the past, etc.

People who are practiced in mindfulness seem to spend less time in that default state. They spend less time ruminating about the past or future and are more rooted in the present They are more aware of what they feel and experience and process it better instead of distracting from it.

This processing enables them to respond differently to old habits and start to form new habits.

Why is that?

Habits are subconscious routines of our brain to handle certain situations, go about life a certain way. At some point those actions were conscious decisions; the brain learnt from the behavior and automatized it, completely skipping the processing. Depending on the habit those actions might no longer be beneficial but detrimental, but since it is no longer conscious we keep on doing it over and over.

Mindfulness calls attention to what you are doing, feeling, and experiencing. Paired with self-compassion you are able to make changes to habits and create new ones because you are more aware of what you are doing at the time.

 How to practice mindfulness

  1. Find a place that you are comfortable in. You don’t need to close your eyes, it does not need to be quiet.
  2. Start focusing on your breathing, going in and out of your body and slowly count to ten every time you exhale.
  3. You will realize your mind starts wandering pretty quickly. Don’t worry, no reason to get frustrated. That is normal. Smile at yourself and like McGonigol writes, say to yourself something like: “Oh there is my brain, doing it again!” Just bring your attention back to what you are doing and restart the count at 1. (You might catch yourself counting to 15 or more, happens to me. Clearly a sign I was back into the default state, my mind wandering).

You can do this practice anywhere but I would not recommend doing it in the car.

Have fun practicing!


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