Did you know the human being’s “factory mode” is being distracted?
We have an innate tendency to focus our attention not on what happens around us, but on past events or possible future events which may never happen.
Calculated in real-time, it has been shown that we are not present for almost half of the hours we spend awake!
Can you imagine?
We spend half of our lives without being fully aware of the work or activity we’re conducting!
That wandering mind, that state of “unconsciousness” ends up taking a very expensive emotional toll on us.
We live victims of our own natural state exacerbated by the frenzy of our current lives.
What can we do to prevent it?
For one, we can strive to focus our full attention on the internal and external experiences that occur in the present moment…
Yes, however elementary they may be: eating, drinking, breathing, walking and writing.
By moving our consciousness away from past and future we will fight the natural tendency of our mind to “wander” and deprive ourselves of present happiness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the perfect tool to calm our inherently wandering mind.
Practicing the fundamental pillars of this philosophy has great benefits, both physically and mentally.
It’s hard to pinpoint a single definition of what mindfulness is but to clarify the issue and to better understand this notion, some of the most prominent scientists in this area met in early 2000 to reach a formal definition of mindfulness.
The following are some of their conclusions:
Practicar los pilares fundamentales de esta filosofía tiene grandes beneficios, tanto a nivel físico como a nivel mental.
Definiciones de Mindfulness, ¡encontrarás tantas como practicantes!
Para aclarar el tema, los científicos más destacados en este ámbito, se reunieron a principios del año 2000 para llegar a una definición formal de la atención plena con el fin de comprender mejor este interesante fenómeno.
This is the final definition they concurred on:
“Mindfulness is the self-regulation of our attention combined with an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance.”
And the following is a collection of other definitions collected by my dear teacher John Shearer, who has encouraged me to share them with you all:
- Mindfulness is waking up from a life on autopilot, being aware of the functioning of one’s mind. By having the ability to reflect on the mind we facilitate choice and change. The way we focus attention directly helps shape the mind.
- Mindfulness is the ability to know what is happening in our mind at this time without necessarily “falling into the trap” and acting on that thought.
- Mindfulness consists in being fully aware of what is happening in the present moment, without filters or judgment. Mindfulness consists in cultivating the consciousness of the mind and body so that they live in the here and now.
- Mindfulness consists in bringing awareness to our current experience with total acceptance.
- Mindfulness means being more aware of what we are feeling, acting with intention and being more attentive to the impact we have on others.
- Mindfulness consists in paying attention in the present moment and without judging.
- Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening in the now without wishing it were different. Enjoying what’s pleasant without being disappointed when it changes (because it will always change) and living with the least pleasant fearing that it will always be so (which it will not be).
- Mindfulness is the accepted and open contact with the present moment.
- Mindfulness is the non-critical observation of the direct current of internal and external stimuli as they arise.
- Mindfulness is to bring our awareness to our experience of the here and now with openness, interest and receptivity.
- Mindfulness means paying attention with flexibility, openness and curiosity.
- Mindfulness is the conscious and balanced acceptance of the present experience. It’s nothing more than that. It is opening or receiving the present moment, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, as it is, without clinging to it or rejecting it.
- Mindfulness consists in learning to direct attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with curiosity, acceptance, and an open mind. Instead of worrying about what has happened or could happen, it enables us to skilfully respond to what is happening right now, be it good or bad.
- Mindfulness is a way to experience the world in the moment, giving us greater clarity and deep inner peace. It is a way of seeing life with the freshness and novelty of children’s eyes, acquiring the vision of freedom, openness and compassion that is available at the moment we decided to recognise it. Mindfulness gives us the ability to resist in order to deal with difficulties and appreciate the joys of full life.
What isn’t Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness is not simply to relax. It is not simply listening to chill out music to avoid our worries. Mindfulness is perceiving what is happening, including what is difficult for us.
- Mindfulness is not just meditation. Mindfulness applies to all aspects of our lives, including communicating, orally or in writing. It’s about finding a different way to respond to the experience throughout the day.
- Mindfulness is not about emptying our mind. Minds produce thoughts, and they will always continue to produce them because that is what they are for! Mindfulness helps you accept your thoughts, leaving room for them or letting them go. It’s always good to remember that thoughts are just that … thoughts. There is no need to stop them, fight against them, act on them or try to avoid them.
- Mindfulness is not part of the Buddhist religion. It is true that attention has its roots in the age of Buddha, but Mindfulness has evolved, and it has become the fusion of ancient Eastern philosophy and the latest Western psychology. The beauty of mindfulness is that it is not a religion, at all. However, all religions could benefit greatly from having a conscious practice.
- Mindfulness is not a technique. It is not something you do. It’s a way to be. It is not a way to fix our problems. With Mindfulness we learn to relate in a new way to everything that worries us, instead of trying to make it disappear. With Mindfulness we train our minds so that we can face whatever comes our way.
- It’s not about doing things slowly. Some Mindfulness courses include exercises such as eating a raisin slowly. That helps you notice the details you usually miss. It also highlights the fact that we often eat or act while thinking about other things. But that doesn’t mean that acting with mindfulness is acting in slow motion! A conscious practice consists in doing things on purpose and with intention, although sometimes they are done at an accelerated pace.
- Mindfulness is not a scientific practice. The research on the effects of mindfulness and its impact on the mind and body are impressive. It is helping to bring full attention to the main medicine. Science can measure what mindfulness does, but it cannot measure what it is. Measuring attention is a science, practicing it is an art that requires presence, awareness, connection and living in the moment.
- Mindfulness is undoubtedly increasingly popular, but is not a fad. We live in permanently distracted societies, focused on wanting more and getting more. Mindfulness is the ideal antidote for the busy lives we live and to helps us be grateful in the moment. And it’s probably here to stay!
Did you know that people over 50 tend to be more “mindful”?
As a general rule, older people are usually associated with illnesses, pains, discomforts, absentmindedness, etc …
But, interestingly enough, study after study consistently demonstrates that we also tend to experience more positive emotions than younger generations.
It is what is known as the “wellbeing paradox” and could be explained by the mere fact that by getting older, we live with more intention and awareness because we are more “mindful” of our environment and our lives.
It’s believed that this is the reason why many of us feel better.
Natalie J. Shook and her colleagues at the University of West Virginia say that mindfulness can be a very important component for healthy aging.
In their study, Shook and her team surveyed 123 young people aged 25-35 and 117 older adults between 60-91.
The majority were women.
What were the results of their research?
Older women recognised that they had fewer years left on this planet, but their emotions were much more positive.
And according to the analysis of the researchers, it was this approach in the here and now, and their greater attention and intention compared to the younger participants, which explained their overall feeling of happiness and a good sense of humour.
The greater their mindfulness, the better they felt.
But it doesn’t make sense, does it?
The older you become, the more aware you are the end is fast approaching!
Yes, and precisely because of that, we unconsciously try to enjoy every second.
Young people tend to be more focused on the future …
They think about everything they want to achieve personally and professionally.
As we age we have less time ahead and we begin to focus more on the present.
What? You find it hard?
Do you have trouble living with intention?
Natalie Shook says that cultivating mindfulness will not only help you maintain emotional well-being in the face of life’s challenges, but, living with positive emotions will also make you have better physical health.
How can you practice Mindfulness at 50+?
You can begin to develop the practice of mindfulness with some simple and practical “exercises” recommended by the “developer” of this philosophy, Jon Kabat-Zinn:
1. Breathing exercises. No, you don’t necessarily have to be aware of your breathing all day, don’t worry. It only takes five minutes a day to discover the emotional and physical benefits of this simple act. You just have to follow your breath, listening to it, without necessarily thinking about it, just letting it flow.
Enjoying breathing will help you wipe out clean any negative sensations as well as control your mind and body.
2. Intense Observation. One of the most important concepts of Mindfulness – the ability to focus in a single moment. The intense observation exercise derives from one of the most famous (and yet surprising simple) exercises designed by Kabat-Zinn. In it, Jon asks us to stare at a raisin carefully. Yes, a raisin. Full observation means fixating your gaze and thought on that raisin (or on any other object in your environment) and focus all your attention and all your senses on that element until creating a mental scenario where there is nothing but you and the raisin. By practicing this exercise you will often learn to live (and therefore enjoy) the little daily things in your routine more intensely.
3. Body Scanner: Check your body from the tip of your feet to the crown of your head. Quietly. Without any hurry. Start with your feet, for instance. How are they feeling? Sore? Tired? Relaxed? Whatever it is that you’re feeling, don’t judge it. Don’t worry why they feel like this or like that. Don’t attempt to change them. Your only goal at this time is to observe your feet. And your knees. Arms. Neck. And so on. Don’t judge any thoughts as good or bad, just let them pass, don’t cling to them, observe them as clouds that pass in front of you. Recognise that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and don’t define you.
4. Meditation walk: in this exercise you don’t go for a walk or “shopping.” In fact, this exercise is usually practiced on a 10-step path, so you can practice it comfortably at home or in your office. Your goal is to focus your attention on the movement of your body while you walk: feel your heels touching the ground and rising again, the sensation of the legs when making that effort, the heat, the cold, the wind. Be present.
And be present wherever you are!
Whether you are 2 metres from home, or whether you are lost somewhere in Mongolia!
Be present at 50+ and enjoy every second of this wonderful chapter of your life!