“Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.” ~ Pythagoras
He might have lived a long time ago but it’s fair to say Pythagoras knew a thing or two about the power of the mind. He knew he did his best thinking in the silence of a quiet mind – and he certainly did a lot of brilliant thinking. Coming up with new ways of thinking about mathematical equations.
Now we don’t have to be mathematical geniuses to appreciate the benefits of a quiet mind but most of the time life doesn’t seem like this. We rush around busy in body and mind – so how can we can learn to manage our minds?
How can we learn to be silent so our quiet minds can listen and absorb and do much else besides? One of the best ways is to manage your mind with mindfulness meditation.
Why do we need to manage our minds? Because all too often our minds are full of thoughts about what’s happened in the past or planning what’s going to happen in the future.
Of course we need to think about these things sometimes but not at the expense of what’s going on around us in the here and now. So the idea of mindfulness is that we’re mindful of the present moment, but that as far as possible we do this in a non-critical way. (See last week’s post for more about this)
Mindfulness is about purposefully being aware of the here and now and in a way that doesn’t judge it or put meaning on it – but just experiences it. And one of the best ways to do this is through a simple form of meditation.
Meditation itself comes with a long history which crosses cultural and geographical boundaries. It’s a feature of many of the world’s great spiritual traditions, but we’re not talking here of meditation in spiritual or religious terms.
Today meditation has become part of the mainstream with millions using it as a tool to improve their lives and wellbeing.
Meditation is becoming increasingly popular amongst the business community with prominent companies such as AOL, Apple and Google, offering meditation and mindfulness classes for their employees.
Meditation is increasingly seen as a success tool with the potential to unlock productivity and creativity.
At Brilliant Living HQ we see meditation as a key mind management technique –maybe the most important of all the mind management techniques and tools we advocate. Not only is it of huge benefit to us in many ways (more on this very soon) but it enhances all the other mind management techniques we talk about – like visualization and affirmations.
It’s all about attention
So what’s the common factor across the traditions and disciplines and different ways meditation is used?
It’s attention. Meditation is about focusing attention in a relaxed way on a something – it might be a chant or mantra or something physical like beads or an image. Or it could be something as simple and fundamental as your breath.
This is a simple form of meditation anyone can learn to do. There’s no great mystery or intricate elaborate ritual to follow – you just need to be able to breath and focus your attention on your breath.
If you can breath you can meditate
When you start this simple meditation technique of focusing attention on your breath, the first thing you’ll probably notice (apart from maybe wondering what you’re doing!) is that your mind wanders off all over the place.
Straightaway you might start thinking you’re not doing it right, but don’t worry because this is all part of the meditation experience. Remember that mindfulness is about not being judgemental about what happens in the moment. So the trick is to not judge it or get irritated but to bring the focus back to your breath.
Doing this will help you become more aware of your body, your feelings, your thoughts and perceptions and the incessant activity of your mind.
At the same time you’ll keep returning your awareness to the present moment, rather than dwelling on a past you can’t change or worrying about an undetermined future.
Of course it’s easier said than done! But the brilliant thing about when you manage your mind with mindfulness meditation is that it’s all part of the process. The whole point isn’t to get it right or wrong but the experience of the practice. Yes, we find it hard to sustain our attention. Our minds flit away from this simple task. But by returning the mind back to the breath when it wanders, it can gradually help us observe our thoughts.
You are not your thoughts
You are not your thoughts and mindful meditation gives you a way to sit back and watch your thoughts as they enter your mind, and to recognize the sort of thoughts they are and their impact. The aim is to view these thoughts without self-judgement.
It’s almost as if you step outside of yourself for a few minutes as an observer.
This helps you realize that your thoughts are just your thoughts in that moment. You don’t need to be defined by them and can change your reaction to them or let them go.
So if you can breathe and be quiet for a few minutes you can meditate.
Episode 44 The Changeability Podcast
If you want to manage your mind with mindfulness meditation now’s your chance.
In Episode 44 of The Changeability Podcast we chat about mindfulness meditation and talk you through a quick guided mindfulness meditation, so you can try it for yourself.
Many people like to follow a guided meditation to keep them focused on their meditation, specially to begin with. Our guided meditation Meditation Moments: With Breath In Mind is a great place to start.
Just download the MP3 tracks, sit back and think along to Julian’s calming voice.