You may have heard this word, “mindfulness.” It’s become something of a buzz phrase of late. I’m going to give you one simple serviceable definition which is this, “Mindfulness is the ability to know what’s happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it.”
Imagine how useful this could be. Just as an example, driving on a road and something caught you up faster. How do you normally react? I think most of us, we normally react by having a thought which is “I’m pissed.” And then what happens next? You immediately, habitually, reflexively inhabit that thought. You actually become pissed. There’s no buffer between the stimulus and your reaction.
With just a little bit of mindfulness, in that same situation, you might notice my chest is buzzing, my ears are turning red, I’m having a star-burst of self-righteous thoughts. I’m getting angry. But you don’t have to necessarily have to act on it and chase that person down the road screaming at them with your kids in the back of the car thinking that you’ve done nuts.
Now, you might be thinking, “Don’t I need to get angry sometimes or I just thought?” I’d say yes, but probably not as much as you think. The proposition here is not that you should be rendered by mindfulness into some lifeless non-judgmental blob. The proposition is that you should learn how to respond wisely to things that happen to you rather than just reacting blindly. And that, my friends, is a superpower. How do you get it? The way to get it is through meditation.
I believe that meditation and mindfulness are the next big public health revolution. In the 1940s, if you told somebody you were going running, there will say, “Who’s chasing you?” But then, what happened next? The scientists looped in, they show that physical exercise is really good for you and now, all of us do it. And if we don’t, we feel guilty about it. And that’s where I think we’re headed with mindfulness and meditation. It’s going to join the panting of no-brainers like brushing your teeth, eating well, and taking the meds your doctors prescribe for you.
Let me just close by saying that mindfulness is not going to solve all your problems. It’s not going to render your life a non-stop parade of unicorns and rainbows. Nonetheless, this is a superpower. A one that is accessible by you immediately.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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