Often we would like things to be different from how they are. We plan, we organize, we discuss, we evaluate in order to make things ‘better’. This can be super effective and a real motivation in life. However, we can get carried away by it. When this happens, we can no longer find peace, we constantly think something has to change for it to be better. At that point our thoughts never leave us alone. A constant stream of thoughts is keeping us busy on how we could/should change situations or circumstances. In order for us to stop this endless stream of thinking, we need to become aware of our automatic ways of thinking. But how do you become aware of them?
Mindfulness is about building awareness
The founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, describes Mindfulness as: “Mindfulness is paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Simple, but essential to remember.
Mindfulness happens when you use your attention to really observe what is going on right this moment. A great way of doing this, is by using our senses. Observing how it feels/tastes/smells/looks/sounds. Without thinking up all kinds of stories about what you sense, just sensing. At first when we really observe it might feel a bit strange. We are so used to thinking up stories about what we observe that truly sensing has become rather difficult. With Mindfulness we train ourselves in becoming aware without the stories. According to Thich Nhat Hanh, situations and circumstances truly transform when there is awareness: “Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”
It is rather remarkable that we are so obsessed with changing things, situations, circumstances or ourselves, but that to really change them, we first need to observe and become aware that we constantly strive for change.