LETTING GO IS IMPORTANT TO PRACTICING HAPPINESS
Have you noticed – the more you try to control, avoid, worry or manage other negative thoughts by reacting, answering back, chasing or even trying hard to shut down or suppress negative thoughts actually makes negative thoughts and the ‘power’ they seem to have over us – stronger. How annoying! There is a way forward. Mindfulness. The practice of Mindfulness is all about surrender, acceptance, being with rather than reacting to – and if we practice Mindfulness – we are no longer in conflict with ourselves. Instead we are skilfully, consciously, letting go.
Yes, yes – this is all well and good, but how does it help? Exactly?
Mindfulness involves the art of noticing where your attention is and what you are – attached to, so for example the task is to ‘notice’ when you are on automatic pilot and drifting off into habitual negative ways of thinking – then – skillfully and ‘mindfully’ directing your attention back to the present moment – using the breath to be here, now – in this moment not a past or future moment.
Mindfulness has some similarities with the experience of listening to music or even a radio. Negative thoughts are a kind of channel that we can tune our attention in to – we can, but if we rest on this channel – the experience becomes more and more uncomfortable.
The Mind, just like the natural world – moves. It is the nature of thoughts to wander. The practice of Mindfulness is not really about trying to turn the ‘radio’ off but more relating to the experience of ‘listening’ to the radio differently. You are able to notice, to choose to tune in to – what is happening around you and within you in the present moment by allowing your body to help you. Following the movement of breath in and out of your body with tune your attention in to a different experience one that is constantly changing.
Mindfulness is very effective but it is not a quick fix. Effective practice of Mindfulness requires effort but the good news is, like anything – the more you do it, the better you become at the practice. You will encounter negative thoughts, just like some days the sky is overcast and it is windy but what you will be able to do is change the way you listen or notice those thoughts and what other experiences you are able to notice.
Remember Mindfulness is a skill – just like learning a musical instrument – practice makes ‘perfect’ – language is so powerful. Perfect is not really what we are going for with Mindfulness – maybe a better way to say this is ‘practice makes present’!
STEPS FOR LETTING GO
Whenever – we set out to change an existing habit or create a new one – it is important to be success focused. So – begin with small achievable goals to build confidence.
1. Beginning to practice …
- Sit down in a chair and adopt a relaxed and alert posture to assist you be present to this moment.
- Ask yourself, “What am I experiencing right now? What thoughts are happening? What feelings am I present to? What body sensations am I aware of?”
- Allow yourself to just acknowledge, observe and describe these experiences to yourself, without trying to change them or answer the thoughts back. Spend 30 seconds to 1 minute just doing this.
2. Focus on the Breath
- Follow the movement of your breath in and out of your lungs
- Focus on the sensations of your breath as the air moves in and out of your body, notice the feeling of expansion and contraction.
- Encourage yourself by saying “relax” or “let go”.
- Allow yourself to explore this experience for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Expand your Awareness
- Begin sensing your whole body breathing
- If you become present to strong feelings you can encourage and reassure yourself by saying, “it is OK, I can feel this, I can be with this”.
- Encourage yourself to breath in to these feeling states to assist yourself ‘be’ with what is happening.
- Explore this way of being for only 1 minute to begin with and build your confidence.