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12 Little Known Laws Of Mindfulness

by MARC CHERNOFF     The Open Mind     August 28, 2015 

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”

 – Carl Jung

Mindfulness as a daily ritual is the ultimate challenge and practice.  It’s a way of living, of being, of seeing, of tapping into the full power of your humanity.

At its core, mindfulness is…

  • Being aware of what’s happening in the present moment without wishing it were different
  • Enjoying each pleasant experience without holding on when it changes (which it will)
  • Being with each unpleasant experience without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t)

Knowing this is important.  Living every day in such a way that makes mindfulness possible is life-changing.  Here are twelve basic laws of (practical) mindfulness we often cover with our coaching/course students that make mindful living a gradual reality:

1.  Your only reality is THIS MOMENT, right here, right now.

  • The secret to health for the mind, body and soul is not to mourn the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment mindfully and purposefully.
  • True wealth is the ability to experience the present moment fully.  No other time and place is real.  Lifelong peace and abundance is found in such simple awareness.

2.  A negative thought is harmless unless you believe it.

  • It’s not your thoughts, but your attachment to your thoughts, that causes suffering.
  • Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true without proof.  A belief is a thought that you’ve been attaching to, often for years.

3.  You will not be punished FOR your anger; you will be punished BY it.

  • Speak and act when you are enraged, and you will make the best speech and motions you will ever regret.
  • Being angry and unhappy about something is easy.  Doing something productive about it is the hard and worthwhile part.  Life is too precious and too short to spend it being upset.  Drop it.  Be positive. Be your best.

4.  Inner peace is knowing how to belong to oneself, without external validation.

  • In order to understand the world, you have to turn away from it on occasion.
  • Sometimes you justify yourself to others when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.  Don’t look for anyone else to give you permission to be yourself.  You don’t need anyone’s validation to be happy or to live a good life.

5.  Everything is created twice, first in your mind and then in your life.

  • If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for almost anything.
  • Keep your morals close to your heart and at the top of your mind.

6.  There is a wilderness you walk alone, however well accompanied you are.

  • Others can walk beside you, but they can’t walk in your shoes.
  • Give yourself an opportunity to discover who you truly are, and to figure out why you truly are always alone even when you’re surrounded, and why this is perfectly OK.
mindfulness

7.  To strongly believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest.

  • Don’t bend; don’t water down your dreams; don’t try to make every feeling logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion trends.  Rather, follow your most intense passions, mindfully.
  • Characterize yourself by your actions and you will never be fooled by other people’s words.

8.  The right path and the easy path are rarely the same path.

  • You will ultimately come to realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path, and it’s worth your while.  Every step forward may be tough, but will feel better than anything else you can imagine.
  • People don’t stop pursuing their dreams and passions because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursuing their dreams and passions.

9.  If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs.

  • Instead of thinking about what you want, first consider what you are willing to give up to get it.  You can’t have the destination without the journey.  If you want the six-pack abs, you have to want the sweat, the sore muscles, the early mornings at the gym, and the healthy meals.
  • Ask yourself: What is worth suffering for?  If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe you don’t actually want it at all, because you’re not willing to suffer though the work it’s going to take to achieve it.

10.  Overcommitting is the antithesis of living a peaceful, mindful life.

  • There’s a difference between being committed to the right things and being overcommitted to everything.  It’s tempting to fill in every waking minute of the day with to-do list tasks or distractions.  Don’t do this to yourself.  Leave space.
  • Keep your life ordered and your schedule under-booked.  Create a foundation with a soft place to land, a wide margin of error, and room to think and breathe.

11.  When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little.

  • Don’t live a life packed full of concrete plans.  Work hard, but be flexible.  The best moments often happen unplanned and the greatest regrets happen by not reaching exactly what was planned.
  • Sometimes you just need to let go, relax, take a deep breath and love what is, right now.

12.  When you are tired, you are attacked by ideas you likely conquered long ago.

  • You must refill your bucket on a regular basis.  That means catching your breath, finding quiet solitude, focusing your attention inward, and otherwise making time for recovery from the chaos of your routine.
  • It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you for a while.  If you don’t, you will burn yourself out.

Afterthoughts

As I am wrapping up this post, I am reminded that the greatest enemy of good thinking, and thus mindfulness, is busyness.

Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect.  We all have seasons of wild schedules, but very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time.  We simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.

Although being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term.  We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful, mindful life.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

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If You Want To Live A More Mindful Life, Read This

There’s been a lot of hype around the term mindfulness. Apparently it’s one of the top trending words of 2014 and it seems that everybody and their dog has jumped on the mindfulness bandwagon. But what does it mean, exactly, to be mindful? Does it mean you have to meditate like a Buddhist monk or turn into a raw-food vegan?

Mindfulness is essentially about not allowing life to pass you by in a blur. It’s about not reaching the weekend or the end of the month (or year) and looking back and not being able to remember the highlights, the lowlights, or anything in between. It’s about remembering to be aware of the journey through life, even the little things. (Especially the little things!)

We’ve all become participants (victims?) of social media, experiencing both major and minor life events through the lens of a tablet/iPhone/Android in order to upload the photos/videos onto Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

If you, like me, want to live a more mindful existence, but don’t want to have to change drastically in order to do so, here are 5 easy ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.

1. Chew your food.

This may seem incredibly basic and boring, but in my practice I have seen many people who suffer from indigestion, bloating, constipation or a variety of other digestive issues, simply because they were eating too quickly. My advice? Chill Out. Turn off your gadgets. Sit down at a table and enjoy your meal. Not only will this reduce the acid reflux you may get from wolfing down a plate that you barely tasted, but it will also allow you to actually appreciate your meal. Eating and chewing slowly forces you to eat mindfully.

2. Breathe deeply on purpose.

This is also another basic technique, but we’re all victims of shallow breathing (i.e. short rapid breaths that only expand the upper chest rather than engaging our diaphragms for deep belly breaths). Although breathing is a very unconscious act, starting to be conscious of it will not only help your blood circulation (and stress levels and posture and energy) but it’s another simple way of being present and mindful.

nature and beauty concept - smiling woman smelling flower with eyes closed

3. Stop and smell the roses.

Literally and figuratively. There have been so many times that I’ve sped past a yard or park with gorgeous flowers and my thoughts went something like this:

Oh wow, what gorgeous flowers … Flour … Damn, need gluten-free flour from the grocery store …

If you’re like me, stop. That grocery list can wait 30 seconds. Your life will not end if you actually stop to smell those flowers. Or pet that dog. Or smile at that child. Or sit on that park bench. Enjoy the simple things, stop sweating the small stuff, and pat yourself on the back for spending those few seconds (or minutes) being mindful.

4. Don’t be afraid to say no.

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is what drives us to go to those parties when all we really want to do is lie in bed with a book, or get into our jammies and watch Breaking Bad. Stop and take a moment to figure out why you want to go to that party/bar/birthday/event and ask yourself if it’s just that you’re afraid of missing out or being alone. Ask yourself if you’d rather be doing something else.

Guess what? That thing you’re doing by checking in with yourself is being mindful. Staying present in your decisions, being aware of the impetus behind those decisions … that’s what being present and mindful is all about. Don’t let life sweep you along by making decisions based on habit or avoidance. Take responsibility for your choices and be present while making them.

5. Find a hobby.

“Meditating” is this big scary word that automatically makes people think I can’t do that. Meditation is not necessarily confined to sitting on a cushion, forming a mudra with your hands, and observing your thoughts. Meditation comes in all forms, and hobbies that you enjoy are probably among the best forms of meditation. Remember what it was that you loved to do when you were six years old? Pick it up and re-discover it. Make it a priority during your free time. Getting lost in your music/poetry/writing/yoga/sketching is an excellent way to be present and mindful.


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Here’s Why You Struggle To Stay Present

BY ERIN OLIVIO    NOVEMBER 13, 2014 

So many of us humans tend to go through our days on autopilot, which is essentially the opposite of mindfulness. We act unconsciously or habitually, even forming thoughts and judgments without conscious awareness of what we are doing (or why or how well). We just react.

We spend most of our energy rehashing the past or rehearsing the future: wishing, hoping, planning, ruminating, missing, regretting.

We are disconnected from what is happening in our lives — right now, in the present moment — and even within our own bodies and minds. In this mode, emotions seem to just sort of happen to us, and we might not acknowledge them, understand them, or realize we can control them.

Or we might try to dodge emotions or shut them out. Either way, this is a recipe for emotion to overwhelm us. When we are not in the moment, we don’t actually feel our feelings, and that creates more of the very emotions we may wish to avoid. It also doesn’t (and can’t!) solve the problems we are trying to escape.

We can make another choice, however. We can switch off the autopilot and take the wheel ourselves. This starts with mindfulness. Anyone can do it, even those whose usual M.O. is a far cry from being mindful. Mindfulness is a skill like any other, so it can be learned. Also like any other skill, the more you practice it, the better you will get at it.

So here’s the two-word guide on how to practice mindfulness: pay attention. And I mean really pay attention. To things as they are. In the present moment.

And that’s it.

Well, of course there’s more (see the multitude of books and blogs already devoted to this subject). But in a nutshell, that’s really all you need to know. Being mindful means summoning awareness and attention and deploying them inwardly and outwardly, with intention and compassion and without analysis or judgment. Notice all that is happening within your mind and body and in the world around you right now. Attend to one thing at a time — acknowledge, observe and accept each sensation, experience, thought and feeling as it arises —from moment to moment.

Modern life is chock-full of habits of the mind that get in the way of mindfulness. Be on the lookout for them in your own life. Steering clear of these is key to practicing mindfulness.

Here are eight of the most common barriers that keep you from being mindful:

  • Thinking about the past and the future takes you out of the moment
  • Multitasking
  • Being in denial
  • Attaching to thoughts or observations
  • Pushing away thoughts or observations
  • Having a lack of intention
  • Having a lack of compassion
  • Judging, analyzing, criticizing or evaluating

Judgment is one of the most common ways that keeps you from being mindful. Whether you are judging your experience as good, bad or ugly, it’s an obstacle to being fully present in the moment. And you do it all the time. Everyone does. The way to do it less — the way to not let judging interfere with your ability to be mindful — is to increase your awareness of when you are judging.

Try spending a few days noticing all the judgments you make throughout the day. About anything and everything: “What the hell is that lady wearing?” “Yuck, this food is gross!” “I should not be the one handling this!” Any time you catch yourself playing Judge Judy, notice it, label it as a judgment, and resist the temptation to judge yourself for being judgmental.

Then try to tell yourself the same story but with neutral (nonjudgmental) language: “Her shirt is bright.” “Oh, that is bitter.” “I have a task that I do not like.” With enough practice, you’ll begin to make that kind of switch automatically — in mindfulness practice as well as in life.

Adapted from Wise Mind Living: Master Your Emotions, Transform Your Life by Erin Olivo, PhD. 


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Three Ways To Fight Disease With Your Mind

Three psychological approaches which improve health at the cellular level.

Practising mindfulness meditation, yoga or being involved in a support group have positive impacts at the cellular level in breast cancer, a new study finds.

The study, conducted at Canadian cancer centres, found that breast cancer survivors who practised meditation and yoga or took part in support groups had longer telomeres, part of the chromosome thought to be important in physical health.

Dr. Linda E. Carlson, who led the study, said:

“We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology.”

The role of telomores — protein complexes that book-end the chromosomes — is not fully understood, but shortened telomores have been linked to cell ageing and disease states.

Dr. Carlson continued:

“It was surprising that we could see any difference in telomere length at all over the three-month period studied.
Further research is needed to better quantify these potential health benefits, but this is an exciting discovery that provides encouraging news.”

The study divided 88 breast cancer survivors into three groups (Carlson et al., 2014).

One group took part in eight weekly mindfulness meditation classes that lasted 90 minutes, which also included some gentle Hatha yoga.

Participants continued their mindfulness practice at home for 45 minutes a day.

Happy Thoughts

Another group went to a ‘Supportive Expressive Therapy’ group in which they talked openly about their concerns for 90 minutes over 12 weeks.

The aim of the group was to help the women express both positive and negative emotions with each other along with building mutual support between group members.

A third group — the control — took a single 5-hour stress reduction class.

The results showed that while telomore length had shortened in the control group, it was maintained in the support and meditation groups combined.

One of the study’s participants, Allison McPherson, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, said:

“I was skeptical at first and thought it was a bunch of hocus-pocus.
But I now practise mindfulness throughout the day and it’s reminded me to become less reactive and kinder toward myself and others.”

Another breast cancer survivor who took part, Deanne David, said:

“Being part of this made a huge difference to me.
I think people involved in their own cancer journey would benefit from learning more about mindfulness and connecting with others who are going through the same things.”


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6 Ways to Become More Mindful

How aware are you of the thoughts, feelings and sensations inside your body? Do you every truly focus on every sensation you experience? If so then you are probably a believer in mindfulness. Mindfulness is a very important concept in Buddhism and it focuses on the concept that by being in the moment and being aware of every thought and feeling your body experiences you can enhance your physical and mental well being.

Here are six ways you can become more mindful:

Rise and Shine

Being mindful can start from the minute you wake up every morning. Before you jump out of bed to get on with your day take some time to focus on the environment you are waking up in and the sensations of the world around you. If you start your day in a mindful day then you will start it calm and relaxed, and you will find your days are calmer and happier.

Enjoy Your Food 

Many people are so time poor that they wolf down their food, and a vast percentage of the population even eat their lunch at their desk whilst continuing with their work at the same time. Instead to eat more mindfully, eating should be the only thing you focus on. Taste your food, savor every mouthful, and experience the flavors and textures you may never have experienced before.

Stop Multitasking

We live in a society where people value multitasking and the ability to do more than one thing at the same time is highly praised. However multitasking doesn’t make you more productive: if anything it can slow you down and cause unnecessary stress and pressure. Use mindfulness to focus wholly on just one task at a time and you’ll find yourself feeling calmer and happier, and less prone to rushing or making mistakes.

Take a Walk

In our rushed and modern society we are used to always being busy. However one of the best ways to be mindful and focus on yourself is to simply take time out. Take a walk and and think about how that meditative exercise makes you feel. Focus on your breathing and on how your body feels as you move it. Even a walk to the grocery store or round the block can become mindful walking if you focus your mind as you do it.

Let it Ring

When your phone rings don’t rush mindlessly to answer it. Instead take a second or two to focus on your breathing and gather your thoughts before you answer. Focus on the effect the ringing phone has on your body (it causes many people to become more tense, for example) and breath deeply before you mindfully take your call.

Capture The Sceneconsciousness-spiritual-creation

Finally, if you really want to be as mindful as possible in your everyday life then try your hand at mindful photography: no camera required! Take mental photographs of everything you find interesting and everything you’d like to remember as you do round your everyday life. Think about what details you’d like to capture and take the time to focus on them to commit them to memory.

Author: Juliette Foster


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Mindfulness at School Decreases Chance of Developing Depression

Positive results from best study yet carried out on teaching mindfulness in schools.

Mindfulness training in schools has been found to reduce and even prevent depression in adolescents.

The finding comes from research carried out in 408 students between the ages of 13 and 20 who were studying at five schools in Flanders, Belgium (Raes et al., 2013).

Matched classes were assigned either to mindfulness training or to a control condition who simply continued with their other classes as normal.

Their depression, anxiety and stress levels were measured before and after the intervention, as well as six months later.

Happier students

The results showed similar levels of depression when they started the study: 21% of those in the mindfulness group were depressed, and 24% in the control group.

After the mindfulness intervention, the percentage of pupils who were clinically depressed had dropped to 15%, and after six months it remained lower than baseline at 16%.

Meanwhile, in the control group, levels of depression had actually increased, up to 27% and after six months up to 31%.

The study’s results, therefore, suggest that mindfulness training can lead to reductions in depression. These gains are also likely to be maintained for at least six months after the intervention.

student

Stay in the moment

The mindfulness training used in the study had been specially adapted for adolescents, although the principles of mindfulness are the same for everyone.

Mindfulness is about learning to pay attention to what’s going on right now, in this present moment:

    “Mindfulness refers to a compassionate and nonjudgmental moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experiences.” (Raes et al., 2013).

To that end students across the sessions were encouraged to focus on:

    “attention to the breath and the moment” (session 1), “attention to the body and pleasant moments” (session 2), “attention to your inner boundaries and to unpleasant moments” (session 3), “attention to stress and space” (session 4), “attention to thoughts and emotion” (session 5), “attention to interpretations and communication” (session 6), “attention to your attitudes and your moods” (session 7), and “attention to yourself and your heartfulness (session 8)” (Raes et al., 2013).

Once taught, students could continue to benefit from these early lessons for a lifetime, perhaps immeasurably improving their lives.


source: PsyBlog