Have you ever noticed that most of your time is spend living in the past or the future? You are always thinking about the past or planning the future. When you feel depressed, sad, and all the other negative emotions or you feel fear, or even when you feel excited, do you realize that all those emotions are somehow connected to the past or the future? For example, you fear that something bad is gonna happen to you tomorrow or some other time, or you feel sad because you mistreated somebody you love last week, etc.
You might ask, yeah, and so what?
The point is that you are disconnected from actuality, from the present moment that’s happening right now, right this second. You are always running from this because you subconsciously are afraid of what you might discover if you just stop and observe. You are afraid of the emptiness that you have inside of you when you just stop and try to not do anything but noticing yourself. And your mind habitually thinks all those thoughts constantly and makes you forget the fact that you are alive and right here, right now, and not in the past or the future. Your mind is full of thoughts, and you are fully immersed in them, instead of being mindful.
So, what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your experience in the present moment, without judgments, emotional reactions, or making stories about it. This is the process of just observing yourself, and noticing the things that you didn’t notice before.
For example, when was the last time you stopped and actually fully felt the emotions that you feel in your everyday life?
While arguing with people, when was the last time you observed the process of making arguments to defend yourself even though you knew from the bottom of your heart that you were wrong?
When was the last time you got angry and didn’t even notice why or how you did so? What if just observing yourself getting angry could actually make it impossible to become angry at all?
That’s the magic of observation and noticing your direct experiences of things in the present moment. That’s what’s actual, all the rest is just your thoughts about the events that happened or about the things that you think are gonna happen in the future.
All your life’s problems stem from that simple distinction. All the problems are in the past or in the future. That’s hard to believe, but go ahead and actually see for yourself.
Being a human and having an advanced mind as we have is a miracle, and it’s also a curse. It’s a curse in the sense that it always tends to live in illusions, therefore you always live in illusions of your mind, if you don’t make an effort to actually go against those tendencies and return yourself to actuality over and over again. That’s what you’re gonna get good at because you are in danger of dying without fully living. Yeah, that’s the sad part.
When you are in nature and taking pictures of the beautiful sceneries, do you at the same time think about how will you upload those photos on the social networks and how many likes will you get? “Of course not”, you might object. But just try and notice the next time you do that. Are you really fully savoring the nature you are looking at? Do you allow yourself to feel all the emotions that come up? Do you fully feel them? or you are stuck in your mind and you can’t even rest for 10 minutes.
Do you know why people who are workaholics can’t take vacations? or if they do, they can’t rest properly? Because of the reasons I told you above. The mind is always full of plans for what he is gonna do or the stuff that he already did. That garbage doesn’t allow mindfulness because the mind isn’t used to self-observation.
To feel satisfied and to feel the richness that reality can offer you, you must make it a habit to fully savor your experiences. It’s really hard to do that because your whole body and mind mechanism tends to not want to do that. You will forget what you read here 95% of the time, but your goal should be to at least be mindful that 5% of the time and then increase that number bit by bit.
Try to observe yourself when you are having a fight with your partner or friends. Don’t stop fighting or arguments, don’t judge yourself for anything, but just observe how you do that.
Try to observe yourself getting pissed off at your co-workers or your bosses, and don’t try to fix anything about that emotion, just notice and fully feel the anger that’s been triggered.
Try to observe your surroundings when you walk around the city.
Try to breathe mindfully. Try to notice how the air is touching your nose and getting into your lungs.
Try to eat mindfully. Try to feel every texture on the surface of your food, and how does it feel in your mouth.
Try to walk mindfully, experiencing, and savoring every step you take.
Try to relate with other people mindfully, observing yourself, your behavior patterns, your reactions, your emotions, your fears, your insecurities, your anxieties, your struggles, and don’t judge any of those, just notice and be okay with them.
Try to notice the fact that you are alive and you are being right here and right now, not in the past or not in the future. Try to notice how those two are just thoughts in your head, nothing more.
So, that’s a lot of stuff to be mindful of. You can now start to appreciate why your mind doesn’t want to do this. It’s very hard and also it doesn’t serve your mind’s survival as it serves the truth of the matter, because in the end, noticing means becoming aware of yourself, and becoming more and more aware is like death for your fears, insecurities, and other psychological issues. That’s why you are always tempted to fall asleep and be like a zombie.
Mindfulness is the tool to become a bit more awake and not be asleep all the time. When you are fully immersed in your thoughts and not realizing the illusory nature of them, you are basically asleep.
All the psychological schools emphasize the importance of looking into your subconscious mind because they tell us that all the answers are there. The fact that they make a distinction between the subconscious and conscious minds tells us that we are half asleep. We can’t see a huge part of ourselves. It’s hidden in plain sight. But how is that possible? It’s possible because your mind is a very intelligent thing. It hides many things from you and makes you behave in certain ways and not the others because all those things serve your survival. The behavior can be toxic, needy, insecure, but the habitual mind tends to do what always worked. Changing your mind and yourself are the most challenging things ever. That makes you an asleep zombie because you don’t see how what you are reading here is true because you lack mindfulness, a.k.a the ability to observe and notice what your mind does, and not just your mind.
So, is there any practice that we can do to enhance our observational skills? Of course. Meditation is one of the best things that you can do.
Meditation is just a deliberate process of the thing that I’ve explained in this article. It’s the process of observing yourself and reality constantly, every day, as a practice, even for just 20 minutes. It may be your breath, or the sounds of your surroundings, or anything basically. It’s the practice of making a distinction between thinking and awareness (noticing, observing, etc).
You can find meditation instructions on YouTube. There is even a specific meditation technique called Mindfulness Meditation, which is especially helpful if you see the importance of what I described in this post.
In conclusion, try not to forget what you read here and try to make it a habit of observing and being mindful of yourself in every situation, as often as possible, and trust me, the quality of your life and your internal feelings will change in ways you don’t think are possible yet.