Tag: transformation

Using Mindfulness for Personal Transformation

Using Mindfulness for Personal Transformation

What is mindfulness?  

According to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-reactively, to the unfolding of our experience moment to moment. Mindfulness is done purposefully, with a conscious decision, to be aware of our present experience. It is also done non-judgmentally, non-reactively. This means we merely watch the unfolding of our experience. We do not add on to the unfolding experience with our habits of dramatization, exaggeration and fantasy.  

Dr. Gordon Coates in New Zealand has a simpler definition for mindfulness. To him, mindfulness is the constant, non-judgmental awareness of our body, feelings and thoughts. 

Two Layers of Reality

Mindfulness practice helps us to unclutter our mind. To be more specific, mindfulness helps us to unclutter the content of our mind.  

It helps us to see that there is a layer of reality that we are experiencing, and then, there is another layer of reality that we have added to the first layer. This second layer is the result of our mental habits, our conditioned mind. Our everyday mind has the habit of adding to the first layer of real experience through dramatizing and exaggeration – habits that come from our conditioned mind.  

The problem is that we get lost in the drama of our own creation without even being aware of our own role in creating it. With practice, as our mind watch purposefully and mindfully, we begin to see these two layers of reality. We begin to understand our own role in creating and maintaining these fantasies in our life. Our joy and our pain are all our own creation. 

What mindfulness is not

Mindfulness practice is not about the thoughts. It is not really about the content of your thinking. It is more useful to understand your own thinking process – how your thoughts come about, and more importantly, how you react to those thoughts. With enough practice, you will soon realize that you do not have to believe in those thoughts. And once you stop believing in them, they no longer hold any power over you.  

Mindfulness is also not about not thinking. We are not asking you to stop thinking. It is not necessary to do that. All you need to do is to train yourself to become more aware of your thoughts and your reactions towards them. Understanding and insights will come gradually.  

Mindfulness practice is not a mean to escape from reality. In fact, when done properly, you actually train yourself to see things as they really are – free from your own drama.  

Mindfulness is about attention and focus, but it is not just about attention. It is also about awareness.  

Mindfulness is not about getting rid of unpleasant thoughts and emotions. It is more about understanding your unpleasant thoughts and emotions, how they arise, and how you react to them. 

 Lastly, mindfulness is not Buddhism. It is not religious. It is a mental practice, a mental skill, that anyone can acquire, learn and master.  

Looking inward for personal change

So, with mindfulness practice, you learn to look inward to your own body, feelings and thoughts. You learn to be more aware of them in a way that is non-judging. You train yourself to merely watch them as they unfold in your experience. In this way, you are able to now differentiate facts from fictions that you have created. You learn to see things as they really are, and this leads to insights and self-understanding. 

As you learn to become more mindful, there will be some useful insights rising in your experience. You will realize that your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. This is an important insight. It means that if you can train yourself to focus only on the positive, you can free your mind, and therefore yourself, from the sufferings and pain that follow negative thoughts.  

You will also learn that whenever your mind wanders to the future or to the past, you can always bring it back to the present moment by focusing on your body, or body sensation. Why? Because your body is always in the present. It does not exist in the past or in the future. So, this is a neat trick to easily bring your mind back to the present moment.  

You will also observe that there are actually two types of feelings or sensation – one arising from the body, and another arising from our thoughts. Unpleasant, and even painful sensation from our body may be inevitable. However, mental suffering from our thoughts is optional, meaning that we do not really have to create that mental pain once we can master our thoughts. When we are unaware of this fact, we often have no choice but to suffer both physical as well as mental pain. Once we know this, however, we do have a choice. We can learn to endure or tolerate physical pain without dramatizing or exaggerating the pain with our thoughts – a habit we often inflict on ourselves without realizing.  

Common Mental Habits

The more we learn mindfulness, the more we begin to understand ourselves and our mental habits.  

For example, we realize that we pay too much attention to what is happening outside of us, and not paying enough attention to what is happening inside of us. And we learn that paying attention to what is happening inside of us offers us more insight and self-understanding.  

We also notice how we often personalize experiences, meaning we misinterpret experience to be about us even when they are not necessarily so.  

We also make a lot of assumptions and jump to conclusions without verifying the facts. We are often not able to differentiate facts from fictions we have created ourselves. Our mind also has the tendency to focus on the negative, rather than the positive, and is often judging, criticizing, belittling and blaming – ourselves and others.  

We make a lot of generalization that may not be true. Our mind has the tendency to proliferate, fantasize, dramatize and exaggerate things. It also has the habit of looking into the past or the future, rather than staying with the present moment.  

Mindfulness is a potent tool for personal transformation

So, we can see here that mindfulness is a potent tool for self-understanding. With mindfulness, we become more aware of our own mental habits and beliefs, many of which are no longer serving our present needs. This awareness allows us to change ourselves, our mental habits and our beliefs.  

We can also use our emotions as windows into our own inner processes. However, be aware that looking inward is a journey for the brave. It requires us to adopt the policy of being honest with ourselves. We must learn to accept 100% responsibility for our own life. Although this journey of personal transformation may be full of challenges and difficulties, it is still a journey worth taking as we are likely to come out stronger and better in the end.  

As Sun Tze used to say – Know thyself. Know thy enemies. In a thousand battles, win a thousand victories. In this case, the enemies that we need to confront is not outside of us. Rather, they are our own inner limiting beliefs and mental habits that are no longer serving us well.  

Mindfulness is therefore an essential tool for personal transformation. 

The Importance of an Open Mind

The Importance of an Open Mind

Having an open mind is an important requirement or prerequisite for personal transformation.  

This is because the reason we are stuck where we are right now is our rigid and unyielding mind. It is precisely because of this rigid mind that we do not seem to have changed, to have progress, to have moved forward. We are still stuck in our old limiting beliefs, and therefore in our old attitude that has become a hindrance to our own progress.  

With this rigid, unyielding mind, we are blind to opportunities and possibilities that are there for us. We are building walls and closing doors. We imprison ourselves in our own little world, our little cocoon of comfort and apparent safety. We may feel safe, but it is actually a false sense of safety. In the long run, it is detrimental to our psychological and physical health. We are constantly validating our fears. 

When you have an open mind, you start to change all that.  

An open mind allows you to see more possibilities, more opportunities. An open mind allows you to consider other views, other options. They are all there, waiting for you. But you need to have an open mind to see them. With an open mind, the doors disappear. The wall disappears.  

With an open mind, you can start to see and recognize your own limiting beliefs and attitude. And once you are aware of them, you can change them. With a rigid mind, you cannot even see them, let alone recognize and change them.  

Thus, an open mind is an important prerequisite for personal transformation. If you want to change your life, start by having an open mind. 

How Beliefs Work

How Beliefs Work

Have you ever bought a car and then all of a sudden you see the same model everywhere on the road? When I first considered setting up my own clinic many years ago, I discovered that all of a sudden there were clinics everywhere I went. There have been there all along but I did not see them until I started to focus my mind on setting up my own clinic. The outer reality has not really changed but what has changed is my inner thoughts and focuses.

Beliefs work the same way.

Once we have decided to take on a belief, most of the time unconsciously, our brain seems to re-configure itself, re-arranging the neural pathways, and we ended up turning our focus on things and events that further validate the belief. We literally attract these things into our lives.

That is why Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Believe it and you will see it” instead of the usual “I’ll believe it when I see it”. He wrote an entire book on this concept.

So when you hold on to a belief of lack or a belief that the universe is hostile, then you will “see” the evidence in your life validating those beliefs. Believe you are not worthy and it is reflected in your low self esteem and other self esteem issues, in the way you avoid relationships or commitments, or in experiencing people in your life who continue to take you for granted or look down on you.

Believe in a benevolent universe and a universe of abundance, and you will begin to see evidence of abundance and generosity, kindness and compassion.

The good news is that you get to choose what you want to believe in.

The bad news is that you can choose your beliefs only if you are highly mindful and aware of your thoughts. This is because beliefs are most often taken in unconsciously and as long as you continue to live your life unconsciously you will continue to take in beliefs without being able to filter them.

Fortunately, there are many ways and tools to remove unwanted life-limiting beliefs and consciously accept life-enhancing beliefs.

Being aware that there is such a possibility is already a step forward. To be able to learn the methods and to apply them in your own life would be truly transformational, and there are many powerful methods to choose from. Look for them and you will find them.