The world is fast-moving. Everyone jumps from one task to another task without paying much attention to what they are doing. We often go on autopilot mode and are in a hurry to finish off our things-to-do list.
If we observe the number of moments we are mindful of within a day, it is more likely we would get only a handful number of moments. That means we often spend time without any awareness.
This article discusses what is it to be not mindful, its repercussions, and how can you start incorporating mindfulness into your life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means the wise awareness of mind and matter without letting it wander away. Mindfulness does not need to be focusing on present moment phenomena. It can also be your awareness of a past or future phenomena related to mind and matter.
For example, you can recollect a happy moment that occurred in the past. Even the incident has passed away, you can still contemplate on the pleasurable feelings that arose at that moment. With wise attention, you can realize the impermeant and selfless nature of that moment.
Even if you are doing the analysis at the present moment, the incident that you are analyzing occurred in the past. Likewise, it is possible to pay wise attention in the present moment, to an incident that will happen in the future.
The fact that you pay wise attention to a past, present, or future incident is not relevant. What actually matters is whether you pay wise attention as you contemplate the incident at the present moment.
Why is it important to be mindful?
Practicing mindfulness is a way to investigate the mental state without being judgmental. It is a process of reflection and deep attention.
Suppose you are having dinner. When you eat mindfully, you will focus well on eating without engaging on the phone or watching tv. You will be aware of the portion size and identify even the subtle tastes given by the food items. You will end up the meal with satisfaction without overeating. Therefore, mindful eating is a healthy option in your life.
Likewise, you can apply mindfulness in one or two activities you engage in per day. Another moment you can practice mindfulness is when you brush your teeth. For me, this is usually a time the mind wanders away. Instead, keep your mind focused on the hardness of the teeth. In this way, you can finish cleaning your teeth with full awareness.
What is not being mindful?
We often direct our attention to external things. We rarely remember to be aware of ourselves consist of mind and matter (physical body).
If at a given moment your mind is not focused on the mind and matter manifested as self, that can be defined as not being mindful.
What are examples where people show a lack of mindfulness?
We can take many examples of not being mindful of our daily lives.
- Imagine you are behind the wheel. At the same time, you are busy on the phone. It is always advised not to drive while using mobile phones. However, people do not listen and run into road accidents.
- You are sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture. Your mind is busy thinking about a past event or something that will come up in the future. As a result, you will miss the important points of the lecture.
- It is your lunchtime at the workplace and you feel like finishing your workload as soon as possible. You are working on the computer while taking your lunch. Then you cannot fully enjoy your meal.
The above are some common examples we can find in our daily lives. In fact, we spend most part of the day without being mindful.
What happens when you are not mindful?
Mindfulness is a key aspect of everything we do on a daily basis. When you are not mindful, you will run into difficulties that would be disadvantageous to you.
- You can easily make mistakes because you are not aware of your actions
- You become forgetful and easily miss important people, days or work to be done
- You cannot focus well on your work
- Your thoughts become cloudy
- You become restless and in a hurry to finish off what you are doing at a given moment
- When you are not aware of your thoughts, you will run into various emotions such as anger, lust, hatred, etc.
How do you practice mindfulness?
- Focus on one task at a time
- Move your attention mindfully from one task to another task without going on autopilot mode
- Practice a sitting meditation technique such as breathing meditation to enhance your concentration
How to practice breathing meditation?
You can practice breathing meditation to improve concentration. Select a quiet place without any disturbances.
Keep your hands and legs comfortably to practice breathing meditation. If you are familiar with this technique, you can sit crossed legs while keeping your right palm on your left palm.
Then focus on your incoming breath knowing it is the incoming breath. When you start breathing out, know it is your outgoing breath. Likewise, try to keep your attention on the incoming breath as well as outgoing breath. If your mind wanders away, bring your attention back to the breath as soon as you are aware of the fact it is wandering.
Practice this method every morning or before bed for 3-5 minutes to enhance your focus.
For more details, read What is mindfulness in breathing?
What are the challenges of mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness takes some time and effort. When you are busy with your senses in the outside world, you are not disturbed by hindrances of the mind.
However, when you try to concentrate on one object such as your breath, you will realize how much effort you need in making your mind quiet. Hindrances arise as thoughts. When you sit to practice breathing meditation, you will suddenly remember an image.
If you are not sharp enough to identify it as a thought that appears in the form of an image, you will keep on thinking. Consequently, your mind will become defiled with lust or greed related to the particular image.
Mind is a chatterbox that always generates thought afterthought. Do not pay any attention to your thoughts. They arise and pass away. Instead, focus on the meditation object such as your breath.
Some other hindrances that disturb the peace of mind are sense-desire, hatred, lethargy, restlessness, and worry, etc.
Practice here and now. Usually, our mind likes to live in the past or the future. As soon as you realize the mind is wandering, bring it back to the meditation object. Do not get disappointed yourself if your mind wanders away.
If you try to practice mindfulness at least for a few minutes on a daily basis, you will realize the benefits of it. Then you can incorporate mindfulness in other activities you do as well. Gradually, you will realize you can be mindful everywhere in every instance.
On a final note, you need to start small practicing mindfulness. The results are rewarding based on the experience of those who live with mindfulness. No matter how much you listen to the talks about mindfulness, you have to practice it to see the benefits. So start it here and now.