Are you always living in the past or the future, or do you focus on the present moment? I’ve always said that there is a lot of regret in the past and a lot of anxiety and worry in the future, but in the present moment – life is pretty damn good.
The problem is that not a lot of us are able to focus on the moment. We get lost in our thoughts of the future or past, and our emotions stem from those thoughts.
In addition we start to put labels on people and events because of our experiences from the past or expectations of the future. But, if we are able to observe what is happening instead of label it, everything becomes much easier and happier.
…the more we focus on the past and the future, the more we are disempowering ourselves. – Philosophy For Life
Today I was stuck in traffic, but because I was being mindful, I didn’t picture getting home late and not being able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. Instead, I focused on the sights, smells, and sounds around me and just enjoyed the moment.
I could only do that because just before we hit that traffic jam Dr Elaine Nicholls tweeted me about a new challenge she is starting tomorrow for mindfulness, and it gave me the reminder that I needed to be more mindful.
She is a big promoter of mindfulness, and being an educator, she promotes mindfulness as a tool for students. You can read her posts on mindfulness here.
Interview With Dr Elaine Nicholls
Not surprisingly, when I recently asked people to tell me about challenges that they had taken on to benefit their life, Dr Nicholls had talked about a mindfulness challenge. Following is the interview.
Q. What Challenge Did You Take On?
I decided to do a month of mindfulness to encourage my students to try mindfulness in the run up to their exams. The idea was to increase my mindfulness meditation to twice a day. Since I wanted to establish this as a habit I aimed to do at least two minutes meditation first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
During the month we tried mindfulness in class and I wrote updates and blog posts so that any interested students could find out more.
Q. Was It Hard To Stick With The Challenge?
I didn’t find it particularly hard because I was very careful when I set the parameters to the challenge. I thought about the likely obstacles I would face and knew that finding time would be the major one. Ideally I wanted to meditate for 20 minutes twice a day but by starting with a target of 2 minutes for this month I knew I could find time to do it. Then once the habit was established I could increase the time. The majority of the time I actually meditated for at least 20 minutes because I didn’t feel like I HAD to and once I had started and done two minutes it was easy to get going. I planned to meditate as soon as I woke up and just before I went to bed so that it became part of my routine.
Q. What Were Your Results?
I achieved and exceeded my goal of meditating twice a day for at least two minutes. This became a long term habit which I find very beneficial and I now miss it if I miss a session.
Why Bother Being More Mindful?
Personally I don’t think that there is anything being more mindful cannot benefit. It relieves pain, reduces stress, helps you enjoy life more, and improves your emotional intelligence, which benefits every area of your life. Even Google employees are taught mindfulness because it is so beneficial.
Listen to Anderson Cooper talk to John Kabat-Zinn about the benefits of mindfulness on 60 minutes. To sum it up, you’ll learn how many people use mindfulness to improve their lives. (The video is only 13 minutes long and worth the watch if you are interested in mindfulness!)
Understanding how powerful mindfulness is makes me want to make it a permanent part of my life – or as permanent as I can make. I’m definitely on a quest to become more mindful.
Jon Kabat-Zinn said that mindfulness takes practice, and that makes a challenge very enticing as a way to practice mindfulness. Join me in Dr Nicholls’ challenge to be mindful for a month. Learn more about the challenge here.