Minding our mind 24/7… or almost
As long as our minds are running around non-stop like a dog chasing its tail or unless we are focusing on a specific task requiring our attention, practicing mindfulness on the go is almost impossible, at list for beginners. Why? Because our body is here doing something almost
automatically whereas our mind is always somewhere else doing something else.
Zen calls this body-mind split “day
We are “day sleepwalkers” from the time we wake up to the time we fall
Practicing short exercises of mindfulness during the day is literally and figuratively like practicing breathing. When you mindfully practice breathing, you may actively regulate how you breathe because you are conscious of it. When we don’t practice mindful breathing, our breathing is automatic and totally subconscious.
In other words, when we practice mindfulness either by formal sitting or on the go, we consciously control and shape our mind. I call this “minding the mind” because we force the mind to slow down by focusing on x, y or z, enabling us to watch the mind being forced to slowdown its flow of thoughts since the mind/brain cannot have two thoughts at the same time i.e. focusing + another thought. However, it will take over very quickly in its wandering escape. Up to you to refocus on x. Minding the mind is a cat and mouse mental game: you against your mind and your mind against you.
When we are conscious, our daily routine, mental activities made of thoughts, feelings, day-dreams of the past, expectations of the future are distract us from any occasion to practice minding such as focusing on our breathing. If, for example, we are feeling anxious or angry, we “breathe” anxiety and anger and they get stronger. If, instead, we practice minding such as being mindful to our breathing, we can, somehow, regulate its pace and, at the same time, observe the anxiety or anger instead of being the target of them. The gift and challenge of mindfulness is that, unless you are deciding to focus on breathing or something else you can’t control your emotions..However, by observing your breath, control becomes possible. If you consciously breathe for a minute, you will naturally settle into deep, steady breathing. In that minute, you relax.
To control more efficiently your breathing circles
Count each exhales from 1 to 10. In a minute of breathing like that, you will take about 6 to 8 breaths.
Although you may not have enough time or patience to sit still for 15 minutes of meditation each day, you can build a strong mindfulness practice by breathing consciously 3-4 times a day at a pace of 6 breaths per minute for 5 minutes at a time. If you do that 365 days per year, you will experience rapidly the benefits of a daily mindfulness practice on the quality of your life and how you are dealing with your emotional roller- coaster.
At first, 3 times a day will be challenging. 5 minutes may feel like an eternity but, as your practice strengthens, you will find yourself checking in on your breath more often than three times per day. You will be able to settle from emotional highs and lows in fewer than five minutes. As you target your mindfulness practice toward moments of elevated stress, boredom, anger or fear, you will get better at easing yourself out of those emotional states.
Because our ego-centered minds are constantly forming around our habits, mind-set, emotions and dreams and expectations, an hour spent in anger today can turn into thousands of hours of anger over the course our lives. Remember that our ego mind is addicted to emotions because they are parts of our personality and self-image.
The same is true of a breathing-based
mindfulness “addiction”. Practicing 3 times per day, 6 breaths per minute, for
5 minutes, 365 days per year, will bring you some relief each time you do it
and immense relief over your lifetime.
If you can do it with breathing, you will be able to expand this with your emotions and looking for some relief in your life.