Have you ever been so frustrated that you said or did something you regretted later? Have you ever felt so lonely or bored that you unconsciously ate a bag of cookies before you fully realized what you were doing? Have you ever gotten so angry while driving that you screamed at someone (not in your car) and maybe even flipped them off? Is that you or someone who looks and sounds like you but does things you never think of yourself as doing?
These are examples of unconscious behaviors. Typically, they are not pretty and they definitely are not rational but we do them and often have no clear understanding how we came to do them. These are the opposite of Mindful practices.
So now you know what mindful practice is not. So what is it? It’s a practice of observation. Observing your thoughts, reactions, responses and behaviors in the world. It’s observing how those things impact your health, appetite, relationships and over-all sense of well-being. It does not mean you have to do anything different other than observe what you are doing initially. Once you start, however, you will see what you do need to change and can begin to put that into action.
When you are aware of how your behavior impacts your life and relationships, you have the power to make certain changes. If the only change you make is that you no longer say things you regret; things that may be destructive, hurtful or hateful and that weaken the trust in your relationships, wouldn’t it be worth doing?
Being mindful is being present to how you feel before you react to it. It’s choosing a response instead of reaction. It’s creating space around your feelings so that can guard your response. There is a distinction there and one that could prevent loss, suffering and stress in your life.
Again, this requires a willingness to change patterns and habits and do things differently than the way you’ve been doing them. If you’re not living a life you love, this is a great place to look to start changing that.