Modern Mindful Methods
I miss running.
That’s odd because back when I did that kind of thing it was mainly to keep fit for other sports like basketball and tennis; not because I enjoyed running itself.
Now that my joints and tendons can’t take the pounding anymore, however, I realise I probably ran for more reasons than just to get exercise.
I think the main benefit may have been inside my head.
Running helped me slip into a very relaxed state… once I got into reasonable shape, that is.
I suppose it was a form of meditation.
I say that because that’s when I first became aware that there was more going on in there than just thoughts.
As I focused on loosening up and then getting into a comfortable stride, the thinking part of my brain was free to go wherever it wanted to go.
The really interesting thing was that when that happened, another part of my consciousness sat back and watched the thoughts.
Eventually I realised the things that took centre stage at those times were the ones that were important to me or needed some attention.
When my mind worked on the mechanics of my tennis serve I knew all was well. Usually, though, I thought about relationships, work or money.
I decided to talk about this today because ‘mindfulness’ is getting a lot of attention in the media and some of you may be interested in developing this fashionable new technique.
Maybe take a meditation class or get into yoga or an eastern religion.
All potentially rewarding options, but they are not the only ones; and as I see it, mindfulness is neither new nor particularly eastern.
As a matter of fact, most of us do things on a regular basis that require a degree of mindfulness, so another option might be to use our own experiences to help develop skills we already posses.
I’ve mentioned three things that have helped me do that in the past; running, tennis and basketball.
While running there was time to look at my thoughts and with the other two I eventually recognised that I played a whole lot better when my conscious mind didn’t try to hit the ball or make the shot.
By being mindful of what was happening in my own head my conscious mind learned to trust my subconscious and stay out of the way.
I think most sports work that way. So do many crafts and hobbies such as drawing, pottery and dancing. So does playing a musical instrument.
When we start doing any of those things we have to use our conscious minds and try to do them, but if we want to progress we eventually need to still our mind and let it happen.
To do that though, we have to pay attention, which of course is the whole point of being mindful. Anything that helps us pay attention to what is happening right now both outside ourselves and inside our heads is likely to help us improve our lives in the long run.
Sports, hobbies and classes are great, but I suspect there greatest benefit would be if they helped us pay attention even when we were not doing them.