Mindfulness is the mental variant of a start-to-run training. Just like you train your muscles, lung capacity and stamina in such a running programme by jogging at regular intervals, you can develop some kind of ‘mental muscle’ during a daily mindfulness training. The attention training helps you to deal better with stress, but also to be more alert in life, to be more loyal to your own values and to enjoy life more.
After some time you literally transform your brain and you will usually react more independently (more mindfully) to acute situations. You can use a daily exercise: the SLOW principle.
- Stop: you take the time to interrupt daily activities. To many, that’s the most difficult step. That’s why it’s best to learn mindfulness in group. In group sessions the entire group stops at the same time … and that gives extra power.
- Land: unfortunately it’s not so that when you ‘stop’, your emotions and thoughts stop too. They usually just keep running. Therefore you follow a procedure to land where you can focus for example on your breathing. That helps to arrive and land, here and now, in this body, at this moment.
- Observe: you observe what’s going on in your mind and body. What does your mind do? Is it already starting the planning of the day? Is it agitated? Is it worrying about something? And what happens in your body? Are you still feeling tired? How’s your breathing? You observe mental and physical processes. You notice that they come and go and you can find some peace of mind. No matter how agitated your mind is, no matter how unpleasant the body feels… you observe and you train yourself to look deeper. By looking this thoroughly, you get insight into your own system – and after a while you recognise the habits of your mind.
- Wise action: then when you encounter those habits in daily life, you can take a step back. Instead of being automatic and reactive in life you can consciously choose for a strategy. Do you, for example, have the habit of often saying ‘yes’ during meetings? Do you easily say ‘yes’ to assignments? Then your wise action can mean that you take the liberty to choose for your personal welfare. Result? You don’t react automatically, but choose for an action: you formulate a friendly but very conscious ‘no’.