My mindfulness training and practice have been boring at times. Very. Boring.
During shall we say, less interesting times, my mind is an embarrassingly tedious place, ruminating about Amazon Prime shows, replaying conversations over and over in my head, and frequently varying what actually happened so that I can, in my imagination, change the outcome.
What is that about?
As it turns out, it's just what the mind does. And without mental training that allows you to observe what it does and then do something about that, well, it's what the mind will continue to do.
Mindfulness = Awareness
Mindfulness is a practice that gives you the ability to watch, real-time, what is occurring in your own mind that is the cause of your mental anguish.
This is kind of binary notion. Either you can recognize thoughts as objects--the contents of your consciousness--or you can't. And once you can, there's a decoupling that becomes possible. Our thoughts are coupled with our emotions--they have emotional consequences. As a result, every moment that you identify with your thoughts is a moment you create anxiety within your own body and you don't need to. Anxiety is not inevitable.
You Are Not Your Thoughts
Thoughts are merely objects you can pay attention to and minimize the emotional impact they have, if you know how to. But this isn't a skill you accidentally happen upon; you have to train.
Each moment, you have the same tools available to you that I have and that your neighbor has. But the three of us don't necessarily equally know how to use them or even know that they exist.
We All Create Our Minds
We become what we practice from moment to moment. The way we cognitively and emotionally respond to stress is synonymous with our habits of thought and emotion.
We have all been doing something, moment to moment, with our experience. What have you been doing? What habitual reactions do you fortify each day? What do you do with your attention?
Mindfulness Isn't As Boring Right Now
In a way, the Covid-19 pandemic is the moment I've been training for. I observe thoughts that become anxiety, as they are coupled with emotions. Mental anguish--suffering--can be the result if I'm not paying attention. And sometimes I'm not, and an unwitnessed thought is playing in the background of my day and its resulting anxiety infiltrates my interactions. You can imagine what comes next. It rhymes with: moments I would like to do over.
It's never too late to learn about the nature of your mind and train yourself--empower yourself with the skills--to decrease your own suffering and improve your well-being and relationships.
I will be offering a few Introductions to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) soon, and starting another course, via Zoom, in about a month. If you are MBSR-curious, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.