How does the present moment feel?

Inner balance: mindfulness - how you can use standstill as an opportunity for yourself

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The world is still slowing down, public life is still quieter than usual. The occasion is a sad one and yet this situation - like every one - also offers an opportunity. What are the advantages for you? Perhaps you were able to enjoy the rest or the "won" time - at least temporarily - despite the waiver? Perhaps you have got a taste for peace and quiet in your life and would like to be less driven and more balanced in the future? Or maybe there are no obvious advantages, but the circumstances simply fill you with suffering. Maybe you have lost a loved one or are suffering economic shipwreck due to Corona, which of course worries you? In either of these cases, mindfulness can help. It can be a wonderful tool in order to maintain the calm that you have cherished or to calm down and calm down again and again in difficult, troubled times despite external adversity.

 

Scientific studies show that mindfulness reduces stress and is very effective in dealing with difficult feelings and worrying thoughts. Difficult feelings can also be regulated more easily and worried thoughts can be reduced. Mindfulness has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health and improve the quality of life. Studies also suggest that mindfulness is an effective prophylactic against depression and has a positive effect on mood. So in short it does a lot of good.

But what is mindfulness anyway?

The term “mindfulness” is on many lips, but it is not always understood to mean what science understands by it. In the vernacular, the term mindfulness is sometimes used as a synonym for inattention, order, calm or consideration. Science, on the other hand, relates to mindfulness in the sense of "mindfulness" = the English term for mindfulness. She examined a practice of mindfulness that is always about directing one's attention to the here and now or letting it linger in the present moment. Many studies are based on the effects of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. An 8-week course developed by Joan Kabat-Zinn that includes classic mindfulness exercises that are also taught as part of the ALH's mindfulness trainer training. Over and over again, these exercises are about focusing your attention on the instant moment in an unintentional, aimless manner. What arises is a state of mind that is called "mindful". It is marked by Presence, equanimity and inner concentration. You could also say that being mindful has at its core something to do with being present in the here and now.

We know this state of presence and being “there” without any conscious practice of mindfulness. So one or the other may have experienced moments like this on vacation, while looking relaxed at the sea or spent a long time in nature and it became quiet and peaceful in one. Or from longer jogging, when at some point the thoughts become calmer and only the movement is perceived or simply while resting after a delicious meal. To be present in the here and now is in itself a natural state that is no longer or only very rarely accessible to us in today's very fast-paced age of digitization. So often, in the truest sense of the word, a WhatsApp or e-mail intervenes and mentally pulls us away from the here and into other worlds. So many of us are constantly on our toes. Inner to-do lists are checked, the day, the week, the weekend are planned, the cell phone is responded to or thoughts about the past - for many, this is the “normal” state actually experienced. In reality, we are usually not actually present in the here and now that much of the day, but rather in the future, past, digital bubble or (self) evaluating thoughts. Even if planning (future), reflecting (past) and evaluating are sensible and useful, if it gets out of hand it can still be a disadvantage. We feel driven, only have the feeling of functioning empty inside or of running after things. We are in the inner hamster wheel, in which a dynamic can arise. You think you just have to run faster in order to finally arrive as soon as possible or then on vacation, when you reach your destination - in a future moment - to find happiness and peace.

Mindfulness exercises invite us to step out of this inner hamster wheel and focus our attention on what is right now and pause. To stop functioning for a moment, to no longer strive, but to allow oneself to linger and just to be 😊 So we can experience through mindfulness that happiness, calm and a feeling of having arrived can already be experienced NOW - now at this moment. Of course, practice as well as living conditions and much more play a role in whether you actually experience happiness and calm at this moment or maybe you are confronted with other experiences. Nevertheless, happiness and calm can only be experienced in the now. Even the future, if it is there, is in the now.

Why wait until the later now and not start right away? How? - by, for example, feeling right now how you are sitting there.

Where do you feel the touch of the chair / armchair / floor below you?

Where do you feel the touch in your back?

Can you feel your breath too? If yes, where? Feel free to close your eyes and allow yourself to feel 2 conscious breaths.

Yes, mindfulness is that simple. At its core, it's all about perceiving what is right now. For this, one allows the attention to anchor itself in the here and now - for example through Focusing the breath, by perceiving body sensations or listening to your own thoughts without intervening. But you could just as well direct your attention to sensory impressions and consciously listen to external sounds. What are you listening to now

You could also use your eyes and take a very conscious look at what you are seeing right now. - For this, it is best to take your eyes off the screen for a moment and, for example, take a conscious look at the frame of your screen.

Perhaps you notice thoughts that are commenting on it, such as “what is this about now”? It is normal to have thoughts that are part of the practice of mindfulness. It's just about bringing your attention back to the here and now. Thoughts are perfectly fine with this.

Sometimes you have tormenting thoughts, which can often be very persistent and are accompanied by uncomfortable feelings. Of course, by practicing mindfulness, you are not gone immediately like at the push of a button. But by constantly bringing your attention back to the here and now and longer practice units, you can gain distance from them and find your way back more easily over time your own center.

Mindfulness is simple but not easy. To experience the true potential of mindfulness, it takes a period of consistent practice. But smaller units are also worthwhile. It is advisable not to practice in difficult moments - i.e. moments of strong unpleasant feelings - but to start with favorable conditions first. In this way you can build a foundation in yourself that will then serve you in a challenging moment. The lock-down, which is still partially active, might be a good moment for you, as the downward movement means there is more peace and quiet in the outside world. Feel free to start practicing now so that you can take the rest with you into "normal" life 😊

If you are emotionally heavily burdened and now think, "This is a difficult time, I would rather not start with mindfulness", then I would like to contradict you and encourage you. Many people come to mindfulness during personally challenging times. See which moment of the day is best for you and start practicing 😉

Please join us on ours Online series "21 days of mindfulness". We start on May 4th and will give you three weeks of live webinars, podcasts and exercises on our social media channels and other blog posts. We have also designed a mindfulness diary that you can download and fill out during this time. The magazine Auszeit has also developed a 5-day challenge, which we would like to recommend to you. So you will surely be able to make a start in the journey to the eternal now 😊

 

5 exercises for more mindfulness in everyday life

1. Eat consciously!
During the day, devote yourself only to eating and drinking during your meals. Take a look, taste, smell & listen carefully.

2. Do something good Do something good anonymously today.
For example, put chocolate on a dear colleague's seat or take on someone else's job.

3. Pay attention to your posture!
For example, pay attention to how you are sitting at every meal. How does it feel, what can you change?

4. Listen to the sounds!
Keep pausing today & just listen. Perceive soft & loud, distant & close sounds. Maybe you hear yourself too.

5. Hand out compliments!
Today, think of someone close to you & give them a considered compliment.

About Caroline de Jong:

With her background as a psychologist (MSc.), Body psychotherapist, mindfulness and yoga teacher, Caroline de Jong works both as a study tutor and as a lecturer at the ALH Academy, where she supervises training as a mindfulness trainer, among other things. For over 15 years she has been concerned with mindfulness, consciousness development and becoming whole and is happy about everyone who is enthusiastic about these topics and would like to learn more about them. In her free time, she likes to dance and make music and loves to explore the spaces behind movements and sounds, as well as simply to lose herself in the moment.