So much stress stems from our thoughts about situations, rather than the situations themselves. Ideally, when faced with a problem, we do all we can in the moment to solve it and then move on. However, all too often we keep thinking about the problem and stressing over it. So while some of the stress comes from the situation itself, we often greatly increase our stress by how we respond to the situation.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice of focusing attention in a particular way — you practice non-judgmentally paying attention to you experiences in the present moment. It sounds simple, and in truth it is. However most of us still require practice to do it.
So much of the time, we are very far from present. Instead, we tend to be lost in our thoughts – thinking about things that happened in the past or that may happen in the future. Often these thoughts run continuously in the back of our minds — like a running commentary — and we usually don’t even realize this is happening. However, this process can have a huge impact on our stress levels.
To clarify, mindfulness meditation is not about trying to stop having thoughts or changing your thoughts. Rather, it’s simply about recognizing when you’re “thinking” and then coming back to the present. You don’t need to engage with the thoughts. Lightly say something like, “It’s just that thought again” and then imagine gently setting the thought upon a leaf floating downstream. Let it float gently away as you remain present at the stream’s edge. With regular practice, this kind of mindfulness can actually rewire the brain and make it easier to focus your thoughts where you choose, rather than where they automatically and unconsciously take you. It gets easier the more you do it.
Are you interested to learn more about how mindfulness meditation can help you live a happier, more fulfilled life? Download the free “Mindfulness Toolkit,” which includes an e-book as well as a guided 5-minute mindfulness meditation you can try today!