It seems that this remarkable ability to think can also be the cause of our emotional distress. We regret and we stress over a continual internal dialogue, comparing ourselves to others, while harbouring a general discontent over who we are and what we have.
Mindfulness teaches that this desire for more and better, with persistent judgements of others and ourselves, influences how we feel emotionally and physically. Is it any surprise that life can feel so difficult?
I joined the Introduction to Mindfulness class on Tuesday, mainly to control my habit of obsessive thinking. My mind never stops. The stressful rumination can make me feel ill on a daily basis, both emotionally and physically.
The first class went well. There are two Trainers and eight participants. Everyone was nervous and rather quiet. We have a kinship in our mental health and an unspoken understanding for our awkwardness.
My knowledge so far is that Mindfulness is not about avoiding our turmoil through meditation or by applying a set of principles. If we struggle against our thought patterns, we are more likely to engage in internal battles. Mindfulness seems to be more about being aware of ourselves – thoughts and all – and consciously directing that awareness into the present moment.
Since Tuesday’s class, whenever I become aware of ruminating, I try to acknowledge the thoughts and then make a conscious effort to tune my awareness back into the five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
For an obsessive thinker, it can feel as if there is an internal tennis going on within. During the course of a 16-hour day, I probably spend a sporadic fifteen minutes grounded in the present moment, but that is fifteen minutes more than yesterday.
When we are centred in the present moment, there is less chance of the past affecting us, and it’s even less likely we will worry over what might happen in the future.
Mindfulness practice teaches that if we accept what IS in this moment in time, without attempting to achieve any particular outcome, then the acceptance can release us from mental AND physical suffering.
Developing an attitude of acceptance towards the present moment, is one of the most difficult transitions for me. This new awareness of the ‘here and now’ does feel a little weird. It reminds me of Star Trek, when the astronauts say, “Beam me up” and they are miraculously transported between planets and spaceship. Becoming aware of the present moment does feel as if I am switching between planets. Suddenly there are trees, birds, sky, life, and even beauty.
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it”
Thich Nhat Hanh