Beginning today, I am going to do a series of posts on Saturdays about mindfulness. I know, I know. You could care less. Well, you should care more. I snuck one of the techniques needed in the post about finding your observer self.
“Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training.” From Wikipedia
I talk to my God all day. We have an ongoing conversation. But I also know I have to tame my ego which wants to jump in and control every situation. So in practicing living in the moment, I use online games. Ones that make me think. Not ones that allow me to drift away. the ones I use are gin rummy (very intense and you have to be thinking to catch all the moves) and online jigsaw puzzles (also intense and thought provoking).
I don’t like the term mindfulness but I know the practice of it is what keeps me using my energy for what I want to do instead of allowing my ego to eat up all my energy by overthinking.
Today, I am introducing you to one of my mindfulness heroes, Jim Hopper. He has a very diverse website. I will post an excerpt and the link to his site.
From his website: Cultivating Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help us to reduce the intensity, duration, and frequency of our unhelpful habitual responses. Below outlines how some of these effects can occur and accumulate.
Loosening the grip of habitual responses that cause (additional) suffering.
Learning to bring one’s attention back to the present moment, including the ever-present process of breathing, over and over again, involves learning to catch oneself entering into habitual patterns that prevent clear awareness of the present moment. With continued practice and increasing development of mindfulness, one becomes increasingly able to notice those habitual reactions – to unwanted and wanted but unhealthy experiences and emotions – that prevent one from responding consciously and constructively. For example, instead of realizing 5-10 minutes later that you’ve been lost in bad memories or fantasies of revenge, you can catch yourself after only 30-60 seconds. Better yet, you can learn to catch yourself in the process of getting lost in a memory or fantasy. In time, you can increasingly observe these habitual responses as they arise, and choose to respond in other, more skillful ways.
Learning to non-judgmentally observe such habitual responses loosens their grip too. Again, after bringing your wandering attention back to the breath thousands of times, you are less likely to beat up on yourself for getting distracted. Instead, you can simply observe that some distracting habit of perceiving, thinking, feeling or behaving has occurred, and come back to your breathing in the present moment. Over time, you will be increasingly able to bring the same non-judgmental awareness to the various unhelpful habitual responses you have to experiences in daily life.
For example, instead of getting really angry at yourself for feeling helpless and sad when someone makes a harsh comment, or feeling guilty when you start thinking of harsh replies, you might notice, without judgment, that you have the habit of responding to harsh comments with (a) feelings of helplessness and sadness, followed by (b) angry thoughts of come-backs, followed by (c) anger and guilt about those initial responses. Once you notice such common human responses in yourself without judgment, you can choose to bring your attention back to what’s actually happening in the conversation now, to consider whether and how you might redirect or end the conversation without creating more negative feelings, etc.
Another example: Rather than coming home from work really stressed out and, when you get the chance, reaching for alcohol (or marijuana or porn or whatever) to escape the stress and bad feelings, you could set aside some time to simply observe the unpleasant emotions and physical sensations of your ‘stress,’ including the thoughts, images and impulses to seek escape (perhaps in ways that cause stress and shame in their own right).
Clearly such changes in one’s awareness and attention, which loosen the grip of habitual response patterns, bring greater freedom to choose how one responds to the inevitable unpleasant and unwanted experiences of life and relationships.