What is mindfulness?

If you’re anything like me then you’ve probably noticed that when you are doing familiar and repetitive tasks, walking your dog, showering, or even driving, that your mind is often miles away thinking about something else? You might be having a fantasy about writing a script, worrying about things you want to do but never make time for, or thinking about any number of random things. Either way, you’re not focusing on your current experience. After I survived my suicide attempt I began to see everything as simply an experience, good or bad it is all meant for a reason. However, what I’ve been doing wrong this entire time is not being in the here and now. This method of operating is referred to as automatic pilot mode.

Mindfulness is the complete opposite of automatic pilot mode. In theory it is really simple to understand, but if I were to tell you it was easy to practice then I’d be feeding you a load of horse shit. Mindfulness is simply experiencing the world in the here and now. This method of operating is referred to as the being mode. It is a really useful too as it offers a way of freeing yourself from automatic and useless ways of thinking and responding.

LETS TALK BENEFITS

Every job you’ve ever had has probably come with benefits, one or another. It is meant to entice you to do your best, to know you’re getting something extra on top of your hourly or salary. So, lets utilize that same concept with mindfulness. What are the benefits of mindfulness? Learning to be in a mindful mode often creates the possibility of developing a new habit; A habit which helps weaken old, unhelpful and automatic thinking habits. For people with emotional problems, these old habits typically involve being overly pre-occupied with thinking about the future, the past, ourselves, or our emotions in a very negative way. I’m using our, and ourselves because I have emotional problems stemming from my bipolar type 2.

Do I struggle with being overly pre-occupied with thinking about the future, the past, myself, or my emotions in a very negative way? Yes. Would being more mindful help me? Yes. Am I practicing mindful habits? Yes, but I’m doing it wrong, thus I am here now learning more about it and giving out what I’m learning. In the case of emotional problems, mindfulness training does not aim to immediately control, remove, or fix this unpleasant experience. Rather, it attempts to develop a skill to place us in a better position to break free or not buy into these unhelpful habits that are causing distress and preventing positive action.

LETS TALK CORE FEATURES OF MINDFULNESS

Observing is the first major element of practicing to be mindful as it involves observing our experience in a manner that is more direct and sensual, this is called Sensing mode. All you Naruto, anime fans are probably loving that we can place ourselves in certain modes. Sensing mode jutsu! Sensing mode is better than being in thinking mode cause you’re not stuck in your head doing nothing, feeling crappy about shit you shouldn’t even be worrying about. Our minds have a natural tendency to think about something rather than directly experience it. Mindfulness aims to shift focus of attention away from thinking to simply observing thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations (touch, sight, sound, smell, taste) With a kind and gentle curiosity.

Describing is the second element to mindfulness as it relates to noticing the very fine details of what you are observing. For example, if you are observing something like a banana, the goal is to describe what it looks like, what is its shape, color, texture. You can place a descriptive name to it like “apple”, “smooth”, or “round”. The same process can be applied to our emotions. We can say things like “heavy”, “tense” “choked up”.

I’m going to stop here for now since this is getting rather long, and our attention spun is something like 30 seconds. I am going to release a podcast version of this, so if you prefer listening instead of reading, then check out develop URself on spotify and apple podcast.

On the next blog tomorrow, we’ll continue talking about mindfulness. More specifically how to participate fully, how to be non judgmental, how to focus on one thing at a time and most importantly how to become mindful.

Thanks for reading, keep fighting, stay strong, I believe in you. Sensing mode jutsu!

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Recommendations for music and podcasts.

Music: Jaymes Young, Amber Run, Banners

Podcasts: Ken Coleman Show, Radical Empathy, Rise Podcast and most recently Straight up with Trent Shelton

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