By Gregori Savva, Sep 26 2015 04:17PM
In Mindfulness a great deal of emphasis is put on ‘being in the moment’. What this really means is using our five senses to observe our experience right now. For example: observing the sunset, feeling pain and pleasure, tasting a chocolate, smelling a rose or listening to birdsong. This means being conscious of our sensory experiences in the here-and-now. Not recalling memories or imagining what the future might be. Mindfulness is a practice I often help clients with. You can book a session at EnduringMind, Counselling Isleworth.
Mindfulness shows us that by focussing more on the present moment, we feel less anxiety, fear or discomfort. This means letting go of the past or our need to predict what will happen next. By paying attention to what is happening now; not what we think of it or remember after the event. This allows us to accept the continuous flow of our feelings and sensations without trying to control them. It also allows us to let go of the need for certainty – realizing nothing stays the same forever. Everything changes. And when we accept this, we can stop feeling anxious about the future and embrace change by adapting to it. When we try to impose our beliefs and thoughts on the world, we become rigid and judgemental, trying to make it conform to how we would like it to be. Trying to make it look more like the model inside our head. Instead mindfulness teaches us to observe and accept the world as it is and go with it…So when I say: seeing is not believing I am not trying to be cryptic. I am pointing out the difference between ‘observing’ something as a ‘physical event’ and forming ‘beliefs’ which represent ‘mental events’. An example of a physical event I can observe is: ‘the sun setting’. An example of a mental event I believe is: ‘the sun will set everyday’. So when the ‘sun is setting’ there is very little I can do about it, but observe and accept it is happening.
When I say ‘the sun will set everyday’, I am talking about my expectation of a future event, based on reasonable evidence from the past. I may hope the sun will set every day, but I cannot be absolutely sure of it. Just like the Mayan Indians or the Egyptians, I might anxiously record the positions of sun and moon just in case it disappears one day. The point of the philosophy lesson is this: philosophy is only worth anything if we practice it not if we believe it. So practice observing the world as it is, not as you’d like it to be, not as it once was, or how you believe it might end up.
Observe…Do not judge.
Observe: what is happening now…Let go of what might happen next.
Observe: while you breathe freely and easily…Do not become preoccupied with the past.
Observe: your sensations…Do not get caught up in the drama of your beliefs.
Observe: the present moment.
And practice this while breathing at your own pace and rhythm, without following your train of thoughts or listening to the constant chatter of your mind. Notice what it feels like. If it feels good, do it again sometime. You might feel less anxious, angry or depressed. Find free mp3s and downloads for mindfulness practice on my website.