What is mindfulness?
These days mindfulness touches various topics such as Mind, Brain, Thoughts, Mental Health, Psychological Health, Productivity, and many more. People are discussing mindfulness in hospitals, schools, universities, prisons, military academies, board rooms, parliament buildings, and the list goes on.
In modern days, most people are coming across mindfulness as a therapy. Because of its effectiveness, people are slowly embracing it as a lifestyle choice.
Although the roots of mindfulness come from the Eastern Society, the term itself is very Western and does not itself have fully universally accepted philosophies and ideas. To have a deeper understanding, one has to follow different paths of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, etc.
My understanding of being mindful is to have voluntary control over your thoughts. By staying conscious, you can stay focused by preventing unwanted reflex thoughts. By doing such practices, it improves the quality of thoughts we deliberately want to think over a topic. This will also create mental silence and peace.
As a software engineer professional, one can easily relate to this by comparing a human mind with a computer. Our mind is like a supercomputer, it can do lots of things and can accommodate parallel tasks and thoughts. In a computer, when there are a large number of background tasks and threads, the processor has to do more switchings and thus the efficiency of execution of the main task gets reduced. Similarly, when our subconscious mind keeps distracting us with lots of random thoughts, our ability to focus on a particular task will be affected.
Our brain is the most complicated organ of the human body and thus remains to be the least understood by modern science. Although the advancement in science and technology makes the current human lifestyle the most comfortable one in the history of mankind in terms of physical well-being, we can all agree that they are not necessarily the happiest ones.
Mindfulness is about having control over your awareness. This means mostly being able to control one's awareness voluntarily. Modern-day lifestyle includes so much inflow of data and information to our sense organs that our subconscious mind is always wandering around those thoughts. This creates a lot of noise and distraction around our minds and leads to what is the opposite of mindfulness.
How to achieve mindfulness?
According to ancient sages from eastern societies, practicing meditation is the best way to achieve mindfulness. You may follow topics on Yoga and meditation for more information.
Wouldn't it be great if you could measure how mindful you are?
After years of practice, I've figured out a simple way to measure and improve upon your journey to be more mindful. And that is by keeping track of the number of thoughts per minute and reduce it by practicing meditation more often.
I've prepared a simple challenge for you to try out!
1 minute meditation challenge!
Are you ready for a small meditation challenge? All it takes is 1 minute.
Do nothing and Think NOTHING for just 1 minute. #1MinuteMeditationChallenge
But I can guarantee you that this simple-looking task will be the most difficult task for you. Don't believe in me? Just give yourself a try right now. Here are some instructions.
- Set a 1-minute timer. You can set an alarm or get help from your friend
- Close your eyes and do not open your eyes until the time is over.
Unless you are very mindful you will fail this test. And that is okay. I told you this task is not as easy as it sounds. You will need lots of mindfulness practices to be able to pass this simple test.
How do I pass this challenge?
Simple. Like every other challenge, practice more meditation. You may make some positive changes in your lifestyle and habits. Tracking your progress will also help.
How do I track my progress?
After the end of the above practice, try to trace back the thoughts that came into your mind. I recommend you to count the unique thoughts you have had. Some may even have some difficulty in tracing back the thoughts. If you have this problem try counting the number of thoughts when you try it next time.
Mindfullness_Score = 1 / Number_of_unique_thoughts
You can mark this as a metric to track your progress in becoming more mindful. Lesser the number of thoughts per minute, the higher the Mindfulness Score
When you pass this test, I recommend increasing the time incrementally - 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, half n hour, 1 hour, and so on.
Then your mindfulness score becomes
Mindfullness_Score = 1 / (Number_of_unique_thoughts / Numbe_of_minutes)
Some helpful tips
You will find tonnes of helpful guides on the internet to become more mindful. I'd like to add few tips that will help you with this.
Healthy body healthy mind Our physical health and mental health are somehow related. Taking care of your physical health eventually helps in improving your mental health
Mind your posture Ancient pieces of Eastern literature state that different postures including sitting positions and hand gestures will increase the quality of your meditation. You may do more research if you find it helpful. I at least recommend keeping your spine straight at 90 degrees
Do not engage with your thoughts Whenever a thought comes into your mind, try not to follow along and just watch it like a distant observer. Then they slowly settle down. Again next thought may arise but try the same thing. Try to stay conscious.
Focus on your breath Another useful technique is to focus on your breath. Ancient yoga texts state about different breathing patterns but again this is itself a vast topic to discuss.
Habit formation It is recommended to embrace meditation as a habit. It is more like going to the gym but for your mental well-being. You can notice that if you do not meditate for few days, your mindfulness score will start degrading. The more you practice more it gets better.