Neither you nor I has an unlimited amount of time at our disposal and, as with all limited resources, we need to make very best is this one. Here, we explore some of the bigger questions in relation to time and life and, indeed, having the time of our life!
Don't forget, you can browse all 600 "back issues" in The Archive!
It's clear-cut. You're either mindful or you're mindless. And, if you don't practice your mindfulness, your default setting of mindlessness will simply kick-in... by default!
So, take a minute now. Or, even better, lavish yourself with the luxury of five or even ten minutes. Take the time to notice your breathing (doesn't have to be heavy breathing!); take the time to observe what's around you (doesn't have to be a scene of breath-taking beauty); take the time to hear the sounds around you (doesn't have to be birdsong or a symphony!)... the extraordinary is to be found in the ordinary. And you can find it now.
Oh... and it's not a luxury at all, it's a necessity.
I've been teaching "mindfulness" since 1996... wasn't called mindfulness then but, what's in a name? Except, there is something in a name or a label - it influences what how perceive that something or, often, how we preconceive it, with all the implicit prejudices that accompany a preconception.
This is what I have found with mindfulness. So much has been written or spoken about it - much of it would score high on what one of my US clients calls the "Universal BS Scale". So many practitioners are teaching what I would describe as the bog standard 8-week mindfulness program that originated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School - but they teach it without the scientific context... and we need to understand that scientific context - not because we won't get it without the science but because the science places mindfulness within a broader picture.
First of all, we need to understand that mindfulness is not a "nice to have"... if you're going to properly live your life at all, it's a must because the only alternative is mindlessness which, I think, equates to madness. The insight provided by cognitive psychology and neuroscience in relation to how our brains work against us on an ordinary everyday automated basis is shocking. It shines a light on why we try to change our lives and why change rarely takes place.
Secondly, the science on what mindfulness does for the mind and brain is, literally, mind-blowing and brain-altering. We need to know it and we need to know it for a very important reason. If I went for a run every day for just a couple of weeks, I'd notice changes in my breathing, heartrate and musculature... it would be immediately obvious that things are changing. But if I meditate every day for the same just a couple of weeks, I will probably notice little immediate change and it is highly unlikely (although it does happen) that I'll start achieving mind-blowing results.
We modern humans like to get an immediate "hit" - we like our results to come quick and fast (I'll come back to this next week)... if we don't get that hit quickly, we'll just move onto something else having missed the most important opportunity of a lifetime.
Very often, all Lisa has to do is sit down somewhere for five minutes...
This is exactly what she was doing in Dublin Airport recently when a lady sat beside her and, without even drawing breath, started unloading her story... how she'd had to sleep on a row of four seats in the airport overnight as she tried to make her way back home. She'd been unable to either afford or, in the end, find a hotel room, having been kicked out of (and this is the good part) a mindfulness retreat.
How do you get kicked out of a mindfulness retreat? That's what I wanted to know. The lady in question, along with a couple of other participants, had asked the host about the science behind mindfulness, the response being "you don't need to know the science, it's the experience of the moment that's important". But they really wanted to know about the science... really, really. So they were thrown out for being "disruptive". Not very mindful (on the part of the host) I would have thought!