A while ago I attended a very interesting workshop on Mindfulness. The
concept Mindfulness means to live in a fully concious way, being based
meditation philosophies combined with Western studies. The idea is to become aware of all the things you do automatically, deliberately or not, missing out on the enjoyment of the moment because your mind is busy with disparate th
oughts making plans, remembering a conflict you have had, turning concerns over and over in your mind.
Human beings are the only animals able to think about the future, create possible scenarios, think about how we are going to behave in a certain situation or conversation. But in the busy and fast-paced world we are living in, this may lead us to miss out on the present and forget to enjoy the moment. As well, it may cause unnecessary stress, our mind being restless or to worry prematurely about things that have not happened yet, that may not even happen, or which will happen in a different way than imagined by our mind.
Coaching, Neurolinguistic Programming and Mindfulness teach us that what we think is real actually is a mind map we create based on experiences, knowledge and perceptions of the situation we are going through. This is why situations of conflict or stress we experience are usually related to us perceiving the situation in a different way than the other person, and having different expectations and demands. It is here where many conflicts arise day by day at work, with our partner, children, friends or even strangers. At your home you learned to do things in a certain way, you would have lunch or dinner punctually at a certain time, your parents taught you that being on time means taking into account possible unexpected delays and arriving a few minutes early. Now, maybe this education collides with the one your partner received at home where everyone maybe ate whenever they were hungry or where punctuality was not considered important. Now, the conflict is served. Every time you have arranged to meet with somebody, you are ready to leave house when your partner is just starting to get dressed because he or she just quickly “had to” finish whatever. Or it is time for dinner and he or she does not turn a hair and does not realise that in order to have dinner at a certain hour you have to start preparing it a bit earlier.
Another thing that sometimes can be hard to believe is that people’s intentions are normally good. The root of the problem and misunderstanding usually lies in the fact that the actions seeming incomprehensible, immoral, unefficient or even malicious to us are based on that person’s knowledge and perceptions. Imagine a person raising his or her voice for no reason whatsoever, in your opinion. This strategy must have worked out in the past for them in order to achieve a desired result. Another, trickier example might be a pickpocket. He might not have received the education in his live to see different opportunities for himself. He might not see another way out. The way he has learned to make a living is just this one. Or could it be someone is putting pressure on him or even threating him… We do not know… but is it easy to judge or what?
Those of us who have grown up with the privilege of considering a good education and training as normal and a basic right, can have a hard time putting ourselves in somebody else’s shoes and relating to somebody with such a different story. Whoever feels free of guilt may cast the first stone. I admit to having a tendency of being snobbish about bad education and ignorance. But I do not want to stray off the subject.
Back to the workshop on Mindfulness, they also talked about the fear of change, although not exactly in these words. Due to attachment or rejection, human beings tend to maintain or, I would say, endure and hold onto certain situations. A good example are popular sayings like “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, “Better the devil you know…”. How much harm may those sayings and the mentality accompanying them have done to people! Life goes on, the world keeps turning and pretending to maintain the status quo only leads you to fall behind. I remember a good example in the business world which is Olivetti, former leading manufacturer of typing machines, which resisted accepting that personal computers were the next step towards the future. If we apply it to the prolonged crisis we have suffered, to think you just have to sit it out and then will find again a job in an obsolete profession is just as risky.
Oddly though, human beings tend to take what we think is the easy way and look for comfort. But as I read in a book by Spanish psychologist Rafael Santandreu, comfort is overrated. If we look back at our happiest or most memorable experiences, they often have happened in unconfortable situations. Nobody will tell you their best past experience has being lying two hours on the couch. I, for example, keep reminding eagerly the week spent in London last year, albeit having sore feet and an aching back from walking so much, my face burnt from the unexpected sun and running around from one place to the other trying to show my husband the most important sights. Comfort? Little or none… but did I enjoy myself returning after almost ten years to one of my favourite cities!
As you can see, human beings have an innate talent for complicating their lives and looking for varied ways to stress themselves out and worrying instead of enjoying the moment.
Knowing the mental traps we get caught up in due to traditions, education, experience and self-imposed limitations, I am not surprised anymore about the many misunderstandings and conflicts arising day by day, or by how neurotic and hyper some of us live our lives wanting to achieve all those goals, trying to fulfil all those obligations, commitments, social norms and expectations.
Personally, I will try to uncover my mental traps and self-imposed limitations; I will try not to feel guilty because of not having time to get to everything; I will check all those obligations and aims in order to keep just the really important and necessary ones which contribute something to my life and happiness. And of course, I will try to live and enjoy the moment, focus on it and let the disparate thoughts just be, being I who decides which is the thought or action I want to pay attention to.
If you are on a similar journey, I would very much appreciate it if you want to recommend literature on Mindfulnes (a topic I would like to study more in depth), negative stress, happiness etc.