Do you practice mindfulness? Ever wondered how you’re actually improving mind?
The truth is, it can take weeks or months before you experience any of the amazing benefits you’ve read about. This can cause many people to give up their mindfulness practice.
However, it’s important to remember you ARE changing your brain every time you consciously focus on the present moment without judgment.
In it, he explains when you’re practising mindfulness, you’re building your emotional strength, ability to let go, and concentration.
Behind each point below, I’ve also offered different techniques you can use to practice what Dr. Christopher Willard mentions.
1) Each time you focus on or return to the anchor, you are building your concentration
This is rather self-explanatory, but it’s important to remember.
When you practice mindfulness, you’re focusing your attention on something in the present moment. This could be your breath, an object in the environment, or even somebody talking. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but keep in mind that every time you consciously do this, you’re building your focus and concentration skills.
If you can do this several times for even 30 seconds a day, then eventually your concentration levels will dramatically enhance.
2) Each time you focus on the anchor, you detach from your thought stream. This is a practice of letting go in the moment, which translates to letting go in the rest of the world.
I think we can all agree that the art of letting go is perhaps one of the toughest mindfulness teachings.
It’s natural for humans to attach ourselves to relationships, positive mental states or material objects. Yet according to Buddha, attachments causes suffering.
By focusing your attention on anything in the present moment, you can consciously practising the art of letting go. Someone who is fully present and open has fully let go of the past or future attachments.
Just like above, to practice this, simply remember to focus your attention throughout the day on what’s happening right now.
3) Each time you notice that the mind is wandering, that is the moment of mindfulness—not a moment of failure.
Many people get themselves down because they think they can’t practice mindfulness as their mind wanders too much. This is not the case. Mindfulness is simply noticing what’s happening within you and outside you.
If you can catch yourself mind wandering, you’re well on your way to creating a gap between the observer and the mind. When you’re able to do this, you’re on your way to achieving enlightenment.
So, instead of beating yourself up when your mind wanders, simply take a step back and notice what’s going on in your mind. Eventually you’ll be able to not identify with your mind which will offer you enormous liberation from conditioned and reactive thought patterns.
4) Each time you are kind to yourself when your mind wanders, instead of criticizing yourself, you are exercising and strengthening your self-compassion for challenging moments in the rest of your daily life.
Every time you notice that your mind is wandering, it’s an opportunity to be kind to yourself.
So many people beat themselves up when their mind wanders, particularly when meditating. But this simply stirs up negative emotions and makes your mind go around circles.
Instead, be thankful when you notice your mind is wandering. As explained above, taking a step back and watching your mind work IS mindfulness.
5) Each time you notice where the mind is wandering, that is an opportunity for insight into your mind’s habits and patterns—what we might call wisdom or self-understanding
Creating a gap between the observer and the mind offers enormous liberation. You’ll realize that you’re not your thoughts, or your brain’s conditioned reactions, but that you’re the one who is watching what’s going on. Spiritual master Osho describes this as “the first time you become an unconditioned, sane human being”.
To practice this, all you have to do is notice when you’re mind is wandering, and simply take a step back and watch what’s going on.