Updated: Nov 5, 2020
One of the biggest challenges to this whole mindfulness thing seems to be "the quieting of the mind".
The idea of "turning off" your brain is a big block for people who want to explore mindfulness/meditation because they can't imagine ever being able to.
And they're right! One will never stop thinking thoughts.
But, you can get to a place where it seems that way. It is because you make room for them.
You don't feel so clogged up by the thoughts in your head, there is space for the quiet moments in between them. Like the pauses in a piece of music. Less cluttered.
It is like you step back from your thoughts and simply "see" them. You watch them come in and you watch them float away, so to speak.
Then you are able to see the space between them, too.
So it is more of allowing the space, the pause, than it is trying to stop the thoughts.
They slow down and then become far less important. Then it feels like they are quieting down. Because they are.
They simmer down to a dull hum rather than an erratic set of bells and alarms.
You then see that you are not actually your thoughts, that they simple exist in the moment just like your heart beat, your breathing or the air in the room.
Once that happens: the realization that you are not your thoughts, ever....mind blown! Life changing.
Once you realize that thoughts are simply thoughts:
That they come and go
That they aren't as big of a deal as we make them out to be
That we have the power over them not the other way around, we can change them
So how to get there:
For sure the image of sitting in silence for an hour is unattainable for many.
In fact, it isn't really doable at all for most people who are living in today's world.
We are bombarded with stimulus from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep.
Just turning off? Nope.
So here is the starting point, Mindfulness 101: GO FOR A WALK.
Yep. That sounds simple enough, right?
And it is kind of brilliant, too.
You are "doing" something so that part of you that gets antsy just sitting is satisfied. However, you are not doing this "thing" (walking) with any goal in mind except.....walking. Just being.
You are not to have your phone with you.
You are not to be in the company of anyone or anything (no dog, cat, lizard, rabbit!)
You are not to make it a destination/errand running walk (to the mailbox, drugstore, drop off something at a neighbours, go check out what so and so is doing in their garden...)
You are not to view it as 'exercise'. This is not for you to get your steps in, power walk, nothing of the sort.
You are not even to view it as 'time outside to get some much needed fresh air'.
This is you being with you. Observing everything.
Being in the present moment.
Let those thoughts happen. How busy is your brain? It is absolutely fine to be thinking!
Your thoughts are in the present moment!
Know what I mean? How could you not be?
But, the practice is to just let them kinda hang out with you in the moment.
You don't judge them, question them, try and stop them, fixate on them, or let them take you away from the now.
Like all of a sudden you realized you've been taken away to a conversation you had on the phone 2 days ago, or you are planning Christmas dinner.
If that happens, recognize it just happened with: "Holy shit! I was totally in the past (or future)!! That's wild!"
Then, giggle a bit about it, shake your head in disbelief and come on back to the trees and squirrels around you.
Be curious about what is around you and inside you. This brings connection to the 'now'.
Let those thoughts happen.
Let that body move. Ask yourself: Where are you feeling tense, aches, loose, strong? (with no criticism or judgement)
Let that breathing happen. Ask yourself: How shallow do you breathe? Do you take deep breaths every once in awhile? (with no criticism or judgement)
Let the noises around you happen. Birds, kids, dogs, leaves, wind, cars, conversations, lawn mowers, snow shovels.
Let the senses do their thing. Pay attention to everything you see and hear and smell. What does the breeze, rain, snow, wind, sun feel like on your face?
YOU BEING YOU IN THE MOMENT. That is it.
Nowhere in particular to go. Wonder and wander a bit.
Just make sure you know how to get back!
Sometimes it is helpful to actually name the things you see.
I know. It sounds so lame. But it keeps you in the moment.
"There is a tree" "There is a bench" "There are some flowers" etc...
Just go with it and trust me on this one, okay?! It works.
So you do this walking for the sake of just walking for a few weeks.
Then, you try sitting just for the sake of sitting. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 30 minutes.
Before you know it, you are a master meditator!
Sitting in your peaceful silence.
Observing the sounds and sensations and thoughts around you.
Attaching to nothing. Being that observer.
The observer of everything that is in the present moment. BAM! Mindfulness master :)