Where is your mind, right now? Maybe it’s with the task at hand: reading these words on your screen. But I bet there is a torrent of thoughts competing for your attention: worried thoughts about the future; remorseful thoughts about the past; anxious thoughts about your to-do list and your plans for the weekend. All that mental energy can exhaust even the most mentally tough among us. Mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn said the mind’s constant chatter “winds up being the force that drives us much of the day in terms of what we do, what we react to, and how we feel.” The problem is this: all that thinking distracts from the present moment, the only moment that’s actually real.
Sometimes, the best way to be thoughtful is to empty your mind of all those churning thoughts so you can be mindful instead.
Mindfulness means moment to moment, nonjudgmental awareness. That’s what’s supposed to be happening when you meditate. And once you try to practice mindfulness, you will find it is not easy. That constant chatter has a way of interrupting; our minds churn out thought after thought. And often, these thoughts pull us into the past or thrust us into the future.
But don’t let that frustrate you - it’s supposed to be hard; that’s why it’s called practice. If you stick with it, your mindfulness practice will yield huge results in your life. It can reduce stress, improve your immune system, increase cognition, and provide relief from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Here are four resources to help you get started.
Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh provides a short overview on mindfulness and meditation and gives you five simple steps to kickstart your mindfulness practice.
Headspace is the best meditation app on the market. It’s an easy-to-use resource that teaches you some foundational techniques to help build your practice.
This guide comes from two of the trailblazers who brought meditation and mindfulness practice to Western audiences. It includes a series of guided meditations that will expose you to a variety of meditation techniques, and gives you a brief overview of the Buddhist principles closely associated with mindfulness.
In 2014, Pico Iyer gave a brilliant TED talk in conjunction with his book, The Art of Stillness. Iyer recognizes the modern world moves at dizzying speed and explains how all of us can benefit from a mindfulness practice that cultivates stillness in our lives.
This post was written by Chris Jones. Chris is VP of Content for Apollo Scheduling. He blogs at www.thechrisjones.co