High performance psychologist Michael Gervais has much to say about what it takes to achieve mastery in your area. Working with mindset and mindfulness, Gervais says that it’s all about your level of awareness; I would say the truth of this statement is not to be underestimated.
Establishing a habit of mindfulness
Teaching mindfulness, there are many early learners who cannot begin to imagine the improvement their lives will see once they become consistent in their practice and become more attuned to what they are feeling, when, and why. After all, what difference could it make to practice mindful breathing or listening? Just sitting there counting breaths or listing sounds? And isn’t focusing on yourself kind of selfish? Yet, I would tell you, this is where the journey begins.
Learning about how we can achieve control over our thoughts and actions is liberating. We recognize when we first start to feel a pain or upset which allows us the opportunity to watch the feeling with curiosity, and then we can consider how best to act in response. Gone will be knee-jerk reactions; instead, we’ll have the time to carefully consider the path that will be of most benefit to us, and to those around us. With adults, this would be extraordinarily helpful; with children, it is a life skill that can be taken with them into their futures. Social-emotional learning at its best.
Taking a chance for more truthful responses and better life skills
Think back on the number of times you’ve said or done something in reaction to something else, and then felt regret. After all, you didn’t really convey how you felt, or what you were thinking. How did those words or actions hurt others, or hurt yourself? Practicing mindfulness will not solve any of your problems, but it will allow you the space to develop the skills necessary to respond with the best words and actions to represent what is most truthful to and for you.
Some worry that the practice might be a little woo-woo for them; a little too New-Agey. (Is this actually a bad thing?) If this is your fear, then I would ask you if you find it necessary to reveal every new path you take to those around you? Like starting a new exercise program or establishing better eating habits, just do it, and don’t make it a big deal. After all, I am a person famous for practicing mindfulness at any Starbucks; I put my hands above my eyes, pretend I am reading, and, then, do what is best for me.
As Dr Seuss once said, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” And, trust me, when it comes to mindfulness, I follow my own path to do what is best for me, regardless of what anyone else might have to say about it.
And, as far as being selfish? Nothing could be farther from the truth. Practicing mindfulness, understanding yourself, truly knowing what you are feeling and why you are feeling it…this is a gift both for yourself and for others. Everyone will appreciate receiving calm, thoughtful responses in an appropriate manner…and you will be relieved that that’s how you were able to provide them.
Give mindfulness a try. Whether you engage a mindfulness coach, or make use of the numerous free on-line resources, you will be surprised at the increased calm, focus, and reduced negativity you encounter in your life. And not only will you notice, but your family, friends, and co-workers will appreciate the shift, as well.
Let me know how it goes!