I once heard someone ask Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, “What is the best way to evolve?” The great guru answered simply, “Pay attention to everything you do.”
In other words, be mindful. This appeared simple enough, so I gave it a try — and to my great benefit, I am still trying.
To me mindfulness involves directing my awareness to what I am doing/thinking/being/feeling at that moment.
The opposite is my all too familiar state of distraction, mind racing, one-thought-to-the -next, hyperactivity. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both physical and mental hyperactivity, but does that state of mind serve me as well as focused attention? “No” shout my staff, and “no” whispers my inner being.
My personal steps to becoming more mindful
1. Establish the intention
Everything begins with a thought. For me to have any success at mindfulness, the thought must be transformed into a forceful intention. This intention needs enough power to keep resurfacing, and I must affirm it. I mean constantly reaffirm it — especially given my pull towards multi-tasking and distraction. I set the intention to pay attention to my one action, thought or feeling at a time.
2. Rethink attention
When I give attention to something, I flow my awareness/consciousness to it. With the conscious flow of attention I become enlivened and so does the object of my attention. What’s more, by giving my full attention I slip open the door to receiving greater insights from the deeper levels of my own being. To me my attention is one of the most precious powers I have.
3. Keep trying
Ok, so I have the intention to give attention and this works for a bit…and then I slip back into my multi-tasking/multi-thinking distracted mode. Hopefully your mind and resolve are stronger than mine. But if you’re like me, you may need to keep trying.
Humbling as it may be to face my “distractibility”, I know there’s an opportunity for growth. That’s why I try again — setting my intention, playing with the power of my attention and opening to the new awareness that arises.
How about you? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences regarding mindfulness.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008), founder of the Transcendental Meditation Movement, introduced mediation to millions around the world and inspired thousands of scientific studies on the benefits of meditative mindfulness.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.