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Mindfulness in 30 Seconds Or Less! Part 2
Mindfulness Now!

The key to mindfulness - and the one thing that people often neglect - is Pratyahara, or detachment. This step often determines whether you get to the meditation state at all. It's not that hard to find a comfortable posture and to master a breathing technique - that just takes practice. But if you're still attached to your thoughts and your body, you can recite a mantra or stare at a candle flame forever and you will never be meditating. You'll know it too - something won't seem right, your focus will be off and quite often you can't put your finger on why. Now you have your answer - imperfect Pratyahara.

(Article continued below.)

Yoga instructors like to remind their students that they are not their bodies and they are not their minds. Pratyahara puts that fact into action. Most everyone can understand that their body is something they use, it's not what they are. It's pretty simple to understand you are not the mind, too - take a few quiet moments alone and observe your thoughts. Don't get involved in them, don't "think" them - just watch them. They come and go, drift in and out. Sometimes they jump out at you. Thoughts can be very attractive and seductive - but you don't have to attach yourself to them. You can just let those thoughts fade away on their own. You have a choice about whether you use your mind to think those thoughts... and that proves your are not your mind! Mind, like the physical body, is something you use. The less you clutter it up with thoughts, the more room you have for inspiration and for joy. A mind without thoughts is open to all possibilities.

What if you don't have time to meditate every day? You're lucky to fit in a Yoga session a couple of times a week! Does that mean you're stuck with the limitations of a busy, chaotic mind? Not necessarily. There are small ways to detach from thoughts and practice mindfulness throughout the day. And, yes, they take less than 30 seconds. In fact, they're instant - you just have to remember to do them. Here's the first one:

Focus your attention on the task at hand. Whatever you are doing, just do it (sort of like that old Nike ad). Don't daydream or wish you were somewhere else. You're not somewhere else, you are here. If you're driving, drive. If you're drinking a cup of tea, drink it. If you're washing dishes, wash the dishes. If you're practicing Yoga, practice Yoga (you probably already do that one!). So many people multi-task these days - they're on the phone and on the computer, eating lunch on the job, juggling half a dozen tasks at once. No wonder so many mistakes are being made! Do one thing at a time, pay attention to it without judgment or comment or letting your mind drift elsewhere. Be in the moment. If you do this, the most mundane tasks will miraculously become richer and more interesting. A busy mind breeds boredom. A still mind learns something new with every moment.

The next exercise can be done anytime but it's especially good when you are at your most hectic. Stop for a moment and ask yourself: "Who am I? Where am I? What am I doing?" You don't have to come up with profound answers to these questions (you can save that for meditation) - they are merely meant to bring you back to the present moment. Usually when you are extremely busy, your mind is scattered in a million different directions. You need to bring it back to Now. Once you've done that, detach yourself from all those thoughts (and feelings), approach whatever needs to be done and - that's right. Do it. Worrying about the past, the future or any of the other things that need to be done will only lessen the quality of what you are doing now. Quality moments add up to a quality life. That is the gift that mindfulness brings.

Here are a few tips to help you on your path to mindfulness: Try to watch less television. TV shows virtually burn images in your mind and it's difficult to detach from them. Detach yourself from your inner critic - that voice that makes snide comments about you and those around you. Suppressing it is like bottling a volatile chemical - its chances of exploding are very good. Instead observe it without comment and stop identifying with it - it's not you who's talking anyway. The same thing with all those other negative emotions such as self-pity, annoyance and frustration. Detach. If you stop giving them energy, they lose their power. How do you know you are progressing? You will feel calmer and less stressed out. Your dreams will become more vivid. Your food will taste better. You will not mind washing the dishes! And you will enjoy your Yoga practice even more than you do now.

Mindfulness is a funny word - you are only mind-ful when you are empty of thoughts. That's something to (not) think about!

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