Knowledge About Mindfulness Is Not Enough
Learning about mindfulness can provide a new framework for understanding our experiences, but this knowledge alone is unlikely to do much to improve our life. It would be like learning about sky-diving when you have no plans of ever getting in an airplane. Here are 3 mindfulness tools that will transform your life straightaway if you start to actually use them:
Focusing on Physical Sensation
One of the things people tend to do when they are mentally distressed is to pace up and down. We intuitively know we will get some relief if we move our attention away from our thoughts to something physical. This simple tool works because our attention can only focus on one thing at time, so by focusing on a physical sensation, we discover a sanctuary no matter how troubled our thinking becomes.
There were periods during those early years after I quit alcohol when I struggled to maintain a meditation practice or do any of the other things that I knew were helping me. The one thing I was always able to do was to focus on physical sensation, sometimes only for a few seconds at a time, but it was enough to prevent me from being overwhelmed by life.
If you can get into the habit of focusing on physical sensation, it will make a huge difference to your life. It will mean you too will have a refuge to turn to no matter how bad life gets. It only requires noticing whatever sensations are arising in your body right now (this is sometimes referred to as interoceptive awareness), or if you prefer, you can create your own sensations by performing some type of movement (e.g. walking, qigong, or yoga).
The benefits of focusing on physical sensation:
Opening Up to Feelings and Emotions
Most of the bad stuff (including addictive behavior) we do is a result of trying to escape unpleasant feelings and emotions. We never seem to notice that the ‘cure’ is far worse than the ailment – we can go a lifetime without ever even considering what it is we are trying to get away from. It can come as a huge shock when we realize it was never the feelings that were the problem but our overreaction to them.
Self-compassion is the ability to just allow unpleasant feelings and emotions to arise and pass. When we do this, we begin to notice that these feelings are nowhere near as scary as we once imagined them to be – we have been running into the arms of monsters in order to escape a yapping puppy.
Loving What Is
Mindfulness means being aware of what is happening right now in an accepting way. It is an act of devotion that can completely transform our life. The word ‘love’ tends to suggest a gushy type of sentimentality, but the love we are talking about here involves complete acceptance of what is. If we can bring this type of devotion and full-commitment to our current experience, we will find happiness and peace right now (it doesn’t require you become a ‘spiritual person’, meditate for thousands of hours, or complete any type of self-improvement project).
Useful? Please help us by sharing it on social media.
Other Topics That Might Interest You
During your time with us at Hope, you can expect a life-changing adventure, but we will also provide you with the tools you need for a better future. This is not a quick fix because quick fixes don’t tend to last
A lack of love for the summertime may just be down to personal preference, but it can also be due to an underlying disorder or because we’ve had bad experiences at this time of year. Summer can bring out the worst in us, and this is particularly the case if we have some kind of addiction issue.
In this episode of the podcast, we discuss a wonderful meditation practice that can benefit both the person performing the tea ceremony and those observing it.
There are people who have found ibogaine treatment to be useful in overcoming drug addiction, but it certainly does not appear to work for everyone. There are also potential dangers associated with it that anyone considering it needs to take into account.
Covid 19 has been like a massive storm that has passed through our lives and, at least for some of us, left behind lasting damage. Anxiety issues, depression, and substance abuse may be another obstacle that some of us will need to face.