More on Mindfulness: A Sense of Newness
One of the major facets of my coaching practice involves taking the time to investigate new approaches and tools that can aid us in our journey in becoming who we are and maximizing our human potential.
One of the more popular mindfulness tools on the market is Headspace; an app that assists users with meditation and incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives (you can read a review of the app here).
While researching the app, I happened upon an article from GQ where Headspace co-founder, Andy Puddicombe, highlights some of the benefits of mindfulness [“How Practicing Mindfulness Just Might Make You More Productive (and More Ripped)“] and I believe the fourth point in the article is of particular importance:
The human brain loves habits: they’re efficient, (hopefully) useful, and provide a calming sense of stability to your day. They’re also the death-knell of creativity and mindfulness. When an activity becomes routine, you cease actively thinking about it: you walk the same way to work and arrive not remembering a thing about the commute, or automatically turn the TV on when you get home, or eat three yellow Starbursts at exactly the same time post-lunch. (I may be projecting here.) Habits turn off your mind.
There’s a Zen expression called “beginner’s mind,” and the goal is to reclaim and maintain that sense of newness in whatever it is you do. And if that, too, sounds impossible, Puddicombe wouldn’t argue (and he’s probably been trying to practice it for a lot longer than you have).
Rather than thinking about being mindful for the whole day, which is kind of impossible, [do it] at the beginning of each and every activity. Say, ‘Okay for this next half hour’—or hour, however long the activity is—’I’m going to strive to present and attentive in everything I do.’ Then at the end of the activity, you briefly reflect, not to judge it or be critical in any way, just notice: Did you get distracted a lot—or not that much? And then when you begin the next activity, you just do exactly the same thing. If you go through the day systematically bookending each and every activity, you start, over time, to become more present.”
Whether we know it or not, we all have systems for how we live our lives. From where we put our keys when we get home, to our morning routine, to making dinner. Over time we begin to develop habits and approach everything from the important to the mundane in a particular way. When become aware of what exactly it is we are doing—when we are mindful of each process—we can gain insight on our routine processes and become aware of how each habit and system influences our lives.
One of the greatest rewards of mindfulness as a practice is the ability to approach our daily lives with that “sense of newness” and to identify what is working and what is not.
When we take steps to become more mindful, we can begin to approach our lives with renewed interest. Often that renewed interest leads to lasting improvement and decreased stress; finding new approaches to old routines that can make our life easier and less chaotic.