I am often asked what my definition of mindfulness is and I think it can be summed up in the three words at the top of this page. BE HERE NOW.

“So, it’s that simple eh?”  I hear you say.  “So I just need to be here now, and all my emotional issues will be solved will they?”  Well, I wouldn’t lay claim to that particular outcome, but it is true that if we can learn the art of Being Here Now, we are much more likely to develop true contentment with our lives, to build resilience that will help us manage the inevitable trials and tribulations that come with living life, and to be far less prone to stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues that can and do often lead to a range of serious mental health problems such as clinical depression, acute anxiety, etc.

Is it that easy?  Well Yes and No.  The techniques to allow you to stay in the Now can be taught – they are not rocket science – but developing the mental capacity to make the Now our natural mental habitat can be much more difficult to achieve than you might think.

Part of the problem is the uniqueness of that amazing and marvelous part of the human body called the brain.  As humans, we have an incredible ability to use our cognitive abilities to explore other issues even when those issues are not happening to us currently.  So even as we sit in our chair in the office reading a report or preparing a presentation, we are able to revisit the past – our past – and look again at what we did yesterday, last week, last month, several years ago.  We can re-examine the way we dealt with an issue (or didn’t) and ruminate about whether we made the best choice or not.  Should we have done more or less; should we have done anything at all?! 

Similarly, we are quite capable of considering a future state and determining whether or not we are happy with that state; whether it is good for us; whether it is what we want, or it is going to be our worst nightmare.  Even though it hasn’t happened yet!

Now this ability to dwell on past events, or build future constructs that may or may not happen, does have value.  If we can look at our past and draw from our experiences – use them as learning tools for the present and future – then that must be good must it not?  If we can consider a potential future and rationalise that by doing X or Y or Z, surely we can reduce the risk of something bad happening or equally, improve the chances of something good happening?

Unhappily, and unlike Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, we don’t often see such opportunities – to learn from the past and change our ways, or to understand what has to be done now to bring about a desired future state – rather we end up clinging blindly to the tattered remnants of the past, or worrying ourselves to a complete standstill, transfixed by the vision of a particular future state.

So we go back to a past experience or situation and simply replay what happened time and time again.  Not to learn lessons, but almost as a means of self-flagellation. “Oh, why did I do that?  Why did I say this? Why did that have to happen right then?”  We beat ourselves up for acting in a certain way and, like a broken record, we allow the same thoughts to come around again to plague us with the same questions:  “If only…” becomes our mantra, as we go round and round on the turntable, becoming sad, miserable, despondent, and ultimately depressed by the continued playback of this familiar recording of events about which we can now do nothing.  

Or we become so anxious about a particular future state becoming our reality that we begin to believe that it MUST be true.  That it WILL happen.  That NOTHING we can do can change our destiny.  We become anxious about what we believe is going to be our fate.  Stressed by the consequences of something that has not even happened as yet.

Jon Kabat-Zinn emphasizes that although mindfulness can be cultivated through formal meditation, that’s not the only way. “It’s not really about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you’re a statue in a British museum,” he says, “It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”

At Be Awesome Mind, we teach a modern version of Mindfulness.  We don’t employ much in the way of formal meditation techniques, rather we introduce the client to a series of exercises and techniques that do three things:

Help them to remain in the Now.  Working to fully appreciate that the Now in which they find themselves is the only part of their lives that they can actually live and fully appreciate!

Help them to learn to review the past, to accept what has been, and to draw value from those experiences.  To be able to close doors on previous experiences, take the lessons learned, and move forward to live a better Now as a result.

Show them how to think about their future, and see it as a virtually limitless range of opportunities, and learning that actions they put in place in the Now really can determine which of those futures they are most likely to experience in the fullness of time.

Want to know more about Be Awesome Mindfulness Development?  Give Shaun a call or send him an e-mail.  His details appear on the Contact Us page. 

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