mindfulness v.s. the world

Not including the times that you actually receive a notification, how many times per day do you think you check your cell phone? For most people, it's a mechanical movement, as involuntary as breathing or blinking; you probably have no idea how much it really is...on average, it's 150 times per day. This statistic is sickening, but the worst part is, most of us scowling at this stat are hypocrites. Most of us have a love/hate relationship with being connected, being available or multi-tasking. Maybe you've even tried to "unplug" before, but don't worry. The problem does not lie with technology, it's you! :) 

If you're striving to live a deeper quality, more peaceful or more mindful life, our modern world is plagued with difficult distractions. The problem with any piece of technology is the distracted and unconscious manner in which we waste our time with it. If you have a smart phone, there are countless mindless activities available right at your fingertips. The more we worship technology, the more it becomes an idol and invades other areas of our lives. Cell phones are just one small, prevalent example.

In our fast-paced world, it's not natural to be quiet and still. Even if we don't like it, we tend to be busy, occupied and productive because these things spell success and don't waste time. In turn, we are stressed out, over-stimulated and out-of-touch. Give the average person true peace and quiet time, they get bored, antsy or uncomfortable because we're not acclimated to being calm. (This is why some people need to bring their cell phones to yoga practice and scoot out before savasana.) And this is why we practice mindfulness mediation.

"Mindfulness refers to a psychological quality that involves bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis. Mindfulness meditation means 'paying attention on purpose."-Wikipedia

One of the many goals of mindfulness meditation is to become aware of what we're doing. So outside of our meditation practice, habits that we were not previously aware of begin to surface; we become conscious of habits like checking the cell phone, a curt tone of voice or nail biting...things that were once only noticed in hindsight. During mindfulness meditation, we're not "zoning-out," but only turning our attention inward and only allowing our minds to stay on our meditation practice. We're not thinking about the clock ticking, sore muscles, daily tasks or anything else. We are disciplining our mind to not wander away from the present moment...it's not an easy task. Some days, you might spend 10 minutes redirecting your thoughts back to the present 100 times, but those 10 minutes are still a valuable lesson in mental discipline. Over time, you will begin to notice beneficial changes outside of your meditation practice.

1. Improved focus and concentration
2. Enhanced communication skills
3. Heightened clarity of thinking, intentions and decisions
4. Improved efficiency
5. Peace of mind
6. Relaxation
7. Deepen insight and intuitive wisdom
8. Resilience to change
10. Strengthened self-confidence

The next time you have a few spare minutes and you reach for something to distract you or entertain you, take a moment to notice your patterns. Think about your actions and reactions throughout the day, noticing when you feel most stressed or most relaxed. Use mindfulness meditation to cultivate deeper awareness throughout your life. Start with just 5 minutes of focused thought on the present moment. Try to keep your mind from wandering, but when it does, just remind yourself that this is your meditation time...nothing more. With practice, you will begin to carry this sense of focus with you and have less dependence on distraction, business and technology.

“We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.” -Alan Watts