How can we make mindfulness our default mindset? Is it not already? Think about this:
Every second of every day we are bombarded by thoughts, feelings, emotions, worries, fears, ideas, daydreams, and more.
We can think of the mind like a bus station. Except this station is in a city with a population of 1 trillion, no one has a car, and the architect who designed the station was blind.
Sounds pretty chaotic, right? Welcome to the human mind.
Now, this bus station has busses arriving and leaving every single second of every day. Imagine these as our thoughts, feelings, etc.
We spend our entire day getting on one bus then switching to another and so forth. These fast-paced transfers cause disconnection and stress.
Mindfulness is getting off the bus, sitting down on a bench, and simply observing the bus station as it goes.
It is a focused awareness on the present; the antidote to disconnection, stress, and overthinking.
The best part: it’s always available to you.
A Habit of Mindfulness
Dr. Hugh G. Byrne says that “Mindfulness is available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. All you need is to know you can ‘come home’— to your direct experience here and now—and build your capacity to be present by training your mind.”
The training part here is key; as we mentioned up top, our default mindset is definitely not one of mindfulness.
The good news is that the human brain is conditioned to function in a repeated way. Practicing simple mindfulness techniques over and over trains the brain to adopt it as a permanent pattern.
Every time you step out of your thoughts and into the present (or “get off the bus”) you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain associated with mindfulness.
Creating a habit of mindfulness comes with some sweet health benefits, like a reduced risk of heart attack, an improved immune system, and better sleep.
Making a habit out of mindfulness only requires time and practice. It also helps to find the technique that works best for you; here are two different exercises for you to try.
You don’t necessarily need to spend 20 minutes every day in a formal meditation to build up your muscle of mindfulness.
One of the easiest ways to start training your brain to be mindful is by pausing for a moment and shifting your attention to the present.
These mindful moments start the process of creating a new habit, one where you shift from worrying about the future or rehashing the past to simply enjoying the present.
One great way to do this is by tapping into the body. The body is always in the present; noticing sensations on your skin, or the feeling of the breath immediately brings you into the present moment.
For a more in-depth explanation of mindful moments and a guided walkthrough, read this.
Sit With It
If you really want to improve your concentration, focus, and ability to be present, we highly recommend incorporating mindfulness meditation into your routine.
During this exercise, your mind will wander. When it does, you gently bring it back to the exercise.
That process right there is the entire basis of a mindfulness meditation. Every time you recognize your mind has wandered and then bring it back is like a mental pushup.
Every repetition strengthens your ability to be in the moment and builds new neural pathways in the brain, allowing the practice to become easier over time.
Being mindful isn’t easy, it’s going against the default mode of the brain.
You probably won’t see immediate results with this practice. But, if you stick with it and keep exercising, you will absolutely begin to notice small shifts in the way you react, your ability to focus, and your overall sense of wellbeing.
For more on mindfulness, check out this week’s podcast episode where we dive into the importance of being mindful in today’s highly technological society.
Finally, start right now with this free guided session.