Mindfulness to me means to be present, in the actual moment, where the outer world and inner worlds meet. To be as aware as you can with whatever it is that you’re doing. One friend told me some wise advice he got from his grandmother:
What ever you do, do it fully. When you take the bus, take it with all you have. With as much awareness as you can.
I holy believe that the solution to all possible problems is awareness, or pure understanding.
Therefore mindfulness is a technique or even a way of life that has the potential to improve everything. Literally everything. Not just for you, but also for the people around you. It is very grounding, so it works well for people who easily get distracted. When you practice mindfulness, you automatically practice focus and flow.
Flow is a state of optimal performance that feels great. When you are in flow your conscious processing is replaced with subconscious processing. This way you process information faster, more efficiently and much better in every way.
Some people, including scientists call it the deep now. Flow follows focus.
If you want one thing to practice that has the potential to ease your pain and potentially improve literally everything, I recommend starting with mindfulness.
Which techniques work best for you highly depends on what kind of person you are, your biology, your past, and so on. I like to think a lot, so bodily awareness works well for me. If you are a very physical person that orientates using your body, it might be a good idea to try mental or emotional anchoring.
With anchoring I mean grounding yourself. If you have some experience with psychedelics you know exactly what I mean. Sometimes it feels like you fly away; you’re not really here. Distracted and wandering. Perhaps you’re thinking about tomorrow or you’re imagining possible scenarios that can happen with people you know. The point of anchoring is to get back to your body, including your thoughts and emotions that orinigate in this very moment. This can be hard, because all emotions are valid and phenomelogically real.
Therefore you need to be able to discern. This means to be aware of what is really going on. A lot of times emotions are not grounded. They often have no base or real reason to be present. When you become aware of this, it already loses power over you. Maybe you’re still angry, sad or whatever it is, but now you made space to work with it.
Emotions & Feelings
I heard that in shamanism they have a clear distinction between emotions and feelings. People have different definitions. That’s why it’s important to be clear and precise when we communicate about this subject. This is one definition and formulation I like a lot, because it’s simple and practical:
The goal is to get rid of emotions. Emotions linger. For example, when you are angry for a long time, it’s not grounded. Emotions are kept alive by the ego and by attaching to it. Feelings on the other hand, are ephimeral. They come and go rather quickly. They are grounded in some kind of truth. Meaning your internal and external experience in the present moment.
When you recognize your emotions and experience them as they truly are, they dissolve, or at least you make space to work with them.
According to this definition, emotions can cause a lot of unecassary pain and suffering. They cloud your experience and blind you to a lot of positive things as well.
Learning to feel
Subtle and deep feeling comes naturally when you become more and more mindful. It can be frustrating in times of emptiness. In my experience it’s worth going through periods of emptiness. In other words, not feeling anything, or very little. My ego tends to takeover and create negative thoughts that generate bad emotions.
I rather feel pain than nothing at all! This line is in so many (popular) songs. It actually promotes negativity and bad emotions more than it does any good. It depends on so many factors, so it’s not so black and white, and there can be exceptions to every rule. I had to learn to not feel anything at all. To embace the emptiness. When I do, it turns to space. Space to me feels like possibilities and emptiness feels like limits or impossibilities.
Learning to feel can be really awesome and/or terrifying. It’s a continues rebirth. You die and are reborn every moment. When you truly learn to feel a whole magical world opens up.
…Embracing emptiness transmutes emptiness into space….
Mindfulness encapsulates everything in this post. Anchoring, grounding, focus, flow, discernment and learning to feel all emerge out of mindfulness.
Some techniques work better than others. One technique might work really well for you, but not at all for someone else.
You’ll have to experiment to find out what works best for you.
It can and most likely will easy your pain AND maybe even improve everything.
Pro tip: You can only do one thing at the time. Do everything step by step, until you finish. If necessary, prepare yourself. Set priorities and decide what to do and in what order beforehand.