My nephew is always up for a game, he is very sporty and loves any chance to practice his skills. When he and his sister came over on Saturday we played a quick game of catch whilst their dinner was cooking. In itself this provided a mindful few minutes. Whilst you are focusing on catching the ball it is much more difficult for your mind to wander. If it does wander then you drop the ball and that is your reminder to refocus on the here and now.
I made them a super healthy pasta sauce using tomatoes, onions, carrots (to add a little sweetness), peppers and some seasoning. Once it was well cooked I whizzed it up in the blender. They loved it.
So whilst the pasta and the sauce were bubbling away we used the 15 minutes or so to practise our catching skills. Whilst we were playing it struck me that Mindfulness is very much like playing catch. Here’s why…
1) Both catch and mindfulness require you to be relaxed but to apply a steady focus. By repeatedly playing your focus improves and your concentration levels grow.
2) The more often you do it the easier it gets. Repetition, repetition, repetition, it’s the key.
3) Lots of short sessions of practice are better than one long one every now and then. The brain is like any other muscle in the body it needs periods of work and then rest. If you apply this principle to catch or meditation you will notice the difference.
4) Dropping the ball is part of the game – it reflects when your attention wanders in meditation – you simply notice where your mind has gone/or you ball, and try again. You create new pathways in your brain each time you correct yourself.
5) Anyone can play, whatever their age. You can adjust the rules to fit. Make the game shorter, simpler, longer, more complex. There are no limits to the changes you can make. Sometimes you might get bored but change it a bit and you will be back on track.
6) Confidence makes all the difference. By gradually increasing the length and complexity of your sessions you gain confidence. When you are confident you are relaxed and you focus much better.
So there really are no catches with mindfulness, save for the fact that commitment makes it better. That’s the same as anything in life though, the more you do the more you get out of it. Research shows that we are happiest when we focus on the here and now so do something that grabs your attention for a few minutes every day and see how you learn to love the break.
Come on a Revitalise Day to learn some new skills to get your mind in great shape, what ever you want to do with it.