Those who rush ahead do not go far
Taking a moment to stand alone and unchanging
One can be present and observe every moment
This is the gateway to mindful living
Tao Te Ching
I finally got it! Having practised ‘Mindfulness’ for years (and sometimes only attempted to, when it just wasn’t working!) there was one story that crystallised with a laser-sharp focus what Mindfulness is in the 21st century.
The story goes something like this.
Many years ago a Chinese Emperor invited a Mindfulness expert from India to come to China and review their mindful practices. In today’s terms this would be a bit like the New Delhi office of Ernst & Young being asked to carry out an efficiency audit on behalf of a Beijing-based business. And so this individual travelled for a few years across China assessing the various practitioners of Mindfulness, making notes and observations in order to report back. One day his team visited a group of Shaolin monks who had taken themselves into the mountains to practise a silent and seated form of Mindfulness meditation.
What they found was a group who had previously had a level of fitness and military power highly regarded and useful to society. Within this new Mindful practice they had achieved the ability be go much deeper into seated meditation practices, developing the capacity to eat little and to be silent for months on end, yet their strength and muscles had wasted away and their ability to function in daily life had gone.
This is not what Mindfulness is for the everyday. To disengage from life is a very different practice. It has its own merits of course, but it isn’t a plausible reality for most of us.
The purpose of Mindfulness is not to become proficient at it but simply to become more aware, in order to live life more fully. Hopefully, becoming more connected and comfortable with ourselves. The less you force Mindful practices the more chance you have of benefiting from them: ‘when nothing is done, nothing is left undone’. This is a useful mantra to remember on the days when you find yourself judging thoughts or emotions that might distract you. Some days it will go well and others it won’t – and that’s just fine.
I encourage you to approach Mindfulness with an open and curious mind and treat this as a new insight into how to manage your everyday wellbeing and health. Remember ‘the map is not the territory’, that no year will be the same as another, and be ready and open to new insights into how to live and age well. Once you understand the different experiences we can have through mindfulness, you are likely to develop a new resolve to recalibrate yourself.
After 8 years of working as a Resilience Coach and Mindfulness Teacher, I have developed a 6-step programme and I would like to share the 1st step in this Blog.
For most of us it is common sense to breath well, but not common practice. In this hyper connected word where the constant flow of information frequently disrupts our wellbeing, many of us are not enjoying balanced breathing.
How much attention do you give to your breathing rhythms on a typical day?
Mindful breathing is a very effective technique to help you regain control of your breathing and hit pause on any feelings of stress or overload, so that you may create the space for inner peace and reflection. It is also the 1st step in developing your Mindful practice.
- Take a few breaths in your own time and pace
- Acknowledge your surroundings
- Now bring your attention to yourself
- Empty your mind of thoughts and consciously make a decision to drop your awareness into the body
- Give your mind permission to rest
- Be gentle if the mind wanders, allowing the focus of attention to come back to the body
- Give yourself permission to reach a natural breathing rhythm that is right for you
- Now that you are ready
- Take 6 in and out breathes in your own time
- Trust your body to find the rhythm it needs here and now
- Allowing our bodies to relax into smoother breathing patterns can help us to feel more harmony, personal consciousness and can increase our ability to release tension and reconnect the body and mind.
As you continue to practice Mindful breathing you will be able to recognise good breathing patterns that support your wellbeing, achieving Mindfulness in everyday life as well as during moments of relaxation.
More recent research and studies have shown that balanced breathing for 1 minute or longer begins to slow down the bodies unconscious stress responses so that we can regain control and feel more resilient.
Once you begin your journey towards experiencing good breathing rhythms, through the 6 breaths you will have begun your journey towards Mindfulness.
We sometimes experience barriers to change, however the benefits of the transformation can be remarkable and it is you who decides how much benefit you will enjoy.
Thank you for reading this blog, which includes the 1st step in my 6 step Mindfulness programme. If you would like to know more about Mindfulness one to one coaching and group programmes please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org