Generally, when you think of mindfulness, you think of serenity. Of being calm and peaceful. Of sitting, silently, focusing as much as you can without straining your mind. The notion of mindfulness as a calm thing is the core of achieving a mindful state through exercises such as yoga and meditation.
It works for so many people that it has become the standard for practising mindfulness. Being at rest during your practice will allow you a lot of freedom to consider and understand the processes of your mind. You can choose to be completely present during your meditation or yoga or whatever else you do to practice mindfulness and that can help you to have a better grasp of how your mind behaves in those circumstances.
This can be extremely valuable in getting to know your own mental processes and learning how to control them.
But that’s far from the only way to achieve a mindful state.
Any time when you manage to forget the hassles of the world and focus purely on yourself, your mind and your body counts as mindfulness. You become hyper aware of the moment. Nothing else crowds in on your thoughts and your instincts in that time and, when you finally get a chance to let the outside world back in, you feel better. You feel refreshed. You see everything in a whole new light because you took that break.
But you don’t need to be peaceful for that break to occur.
Really, any kind of experience that shuts you off from the pressures of reality will do.
The kind of experiences that can cause this are the ones that require you to live purely in the moment – exciting ones, maybe even dangerous ones. Or, at least, ones that your body believes could be dangerous.
Martial arts training encourages practising mindfulness for exactly this reason. If you can train yourself to be mindful whenever you need to be, you will be better in combat. If you can reverse that process – by practising exciting and adrenaline-pumping hobbies – it could aid you in your search for mindfulness.
Think about how it feels when you’re in the midst of something that really gets your heart pounding. If you’ve ever gone bungee-jumping or white water rafting or parachuting, think about how you felt during the experience. Think about how the rest of the world seemed to fly away, the way all you noticed was the blood in your veins and your heart pounding in your chest and the awareness of the next thing you had to do to survive.
That, in itself, is instant mindfulness.
It forces you into such a state that you can’t help but focus on you and your immediate surroundings. The pressure of your own problems, of your stress and all the things that aren’t really that important but bug you anyway all melt away.
And you come out the other end with all the adrenaline pumping through you, feeling refreshed and excited. It feels so incredible that it happened and you don’t have the time to be sad that it’s over. Nothing else matters but what you’ve just experienced.
What else is that, but mindfulness in its purest form? Pure focus on only what is immediately necessary.
If you’re lucky, it will persist.
If you take the time to understand how that feeling manifests and learn to cultivate it for yourself, you could be a lot closer to reaching your own mindfulness goals.
Author Bio -Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.