Mindful or Mindless? (TW Mag)
TW Magazines have published this article on their website and in their April 2021 printed editions. Below is a copy.
Despite being a Mindfulness Teacher, I can become totally mindless at different times in my life. The other day, for instance, lockdown seemed to have finally gotten to me. I was quite ratty with my husband and, at one point, ended up throwing myself on the bed in a fit of tears, not unlike a 6 year old. I feel no shame. Sometimes it’s ok to do that, no judgement.
However, I knew what I was doing, so I was actually being mindful in a weird way. Sometimes though, we run on autopilot – we have automatic thoughts/sensations and reactions to certain situations, for example, eating food, relationships etc, and that’s not so good.
Being more mindful
Here are a few ideas to begin being more mindful and making better choices in your life.
• Try cooking or eating and notice the thoughts/sensations around that, especially snacking when you don’t really want to.
• Notice what comes up for you. Is there a feeling of stress, sadness or frustration?
It is always our interpretation that gives us our feelings and behaviours. We have a constant inner commentary going on, and it’s so rapid and automatic that it’s difficult to separate the real facts from the interpretation. When we have thoughts/feelings/sensations that we don’t wish to have, we switch to these automatic habits – thereby maintaining the very thing that keeps us feeling negative or bad about ourselves.
By bringing our awareness to our habits, we can begin to get to know ourselves more deeply. Often, though, there is resistance to this. The quickest way to change this is usually through the body. Many people try to ‘run away’ from their bodies or sensations; they are scared by them, which is exactly the wrong thing to do.
So, for instance, if you were feeling a sensation you didn’t like, simply notice it; you are not trying to change/push it away or fix it, just notice it. Allow it.
Applying this little formula can help:
A. What is the situation?
B. What’s your interpretation of the situation (which is usually just below conscious awareness) but is taken as a fact by your mind?
C. What are your reactions and emotions to this situation and your impulses to act in a certain way?
This is not about judgement but observing our automatic thoughts and behaviours. Do this with compassion. We have to learn to be kind to ourselves. It’s our foundation for wellbeing.