Mindfulness is more than becoming aware of things around us. It is about becoming aware of thoughts and stories that get us stuck. Rumination or automatic negative thoughts can keep us in a rut. Counter to what I expected, they are often changed most effectively through a stance of acceptance. When I am merely trying ot get rid of unpleasant things going on internally I cut myselves off from the possibility to actually change them. If I react to my own negative thoughts and feelings with aversion and annoyance then my body tenses up more. I start to become more irritable and so forth. For a long time, I treated my negative moods and feelings as enemies and as a result made them worse. Mindfulness practice helped me to stay with them until they dissapear on their own.
Negative feelings and thoughts are often interlinked with stories about ourselves and others that are not necessarily true. They maintain our problems rather than to solve them. Today, I’m certainly not free from them but I can say that there were times in my life when I felt like caught up in a hamster wheel. Just thinking about the future and what I still have to accopmplish without getting anywhere. Often this was also tied to what is often called the “doing mode”.
Some problems we cannot solve through analytical thinking. When I critique, judge, and compare myself with others, it usually increase my discomfort. No doubt, the “doing mode” of the mind can help to solve technical problems in everyday life and to transform external world through action. However, I become unhappy when I focus on the glass being half empty. “Oh, I haven’t changed my world yet, and I’m still sometimes struggling with my marriage. I could do so much better. What’s wrong with me?”
The focus on goals and the mismatch between who I could be and who I appear to be right now often made me miserable. One way I jump out of the stories and assumptions of who I should be is to just be aware of what is going on right now in my body. Can I feel my heartbeat? How does the sofa smell? The “being mode” gives us other way of relating to thoughts, bodies, emotions than the “doing mode”. We all have it already. I can remember, as a child and even a teenager I was more in touch with it. Now I’m working on getting back there again. Let’s get out of head and experience world directly without the running commentary.