It would be impossible to control something you couldn’t see or know its location. If we didn’t understand how something worked or have the blueprints, how could we be expected to fix it? We couldn’t; it would be impossible. However, that is the way we treat ourselves. There is an endless amount of self-help books and articles citing the simple ways to change our behaviors or develop new habits. Yet they don’t seem to work, because if they did, people wouldn’t need to buy the next book, or people wouldn’t have to keep writing the books. It would be difficult to solve all of life’s problems in a brief article. However, we can reimagine our approach to changing our behaviors and habits while developing new methods for improving our self-control, focus, performance, and most importantly, relationships.
This article will discuss mindfulness and awareness, but not in a fluffy, puffy, intangible way. Nobody needs more of that. We need new ways to understand how to manage who were are and simple yet effective ways to learn about ourselves. We develop mindfulness and awareness because they are the diagnostic tools that help us understand how we function or how our internal thinking systems operate.
The problem with understanding our minds is that we are the only ones who can see what is going on there. Other people can talk to us and listen, but even then, we need to explain what is going on between our ears so that way another person can help us understand ourselves. In nearly every other physical science or engineering, there are tools to identify and analyze problems. In most systems, technicians have methods to diagnose or visualize issues and then to engineer solutions. But it isn't as easy to tangibly visualize or analyze problems when it comes to the mind, behavior, communication, and relationships.
Think about fixing a broken bone. We experience pain and know something happened to cause us pain. The doctor sees the swelling, but how can we be sure the bone is broken, and what about the potential for nerve damage? How can the doctor fix all of your issues and provide physical therapy? Well, the doctor can see your bones with an x-ray machine, then she can compare that picture to healthy normal bones. She can use an MRI to see your muscles and check for nerve damage, comparing all the results to expected results. But how do we look into our mind to see if there is something broken or out of place? What is the diagnostic tool for the mind?
Making matters far more complicated is that most of our behaviors, interpretations, and beliefs about the world are stored in invisible memories that our minds cannot easily access. Sometimes we learn things incorrectly, making associations that are either no longer true or might have never been true in the first place. These memories determine how we approach problems, the assumptions we make about other people, and the meaning of our emotions. We can change the way we think, but before first, we need to identify what, when, when, and why we are thinking and feeling. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But this is the only way to make tangible changes to our behaviors, emotions, habits, and relationships. It leads to a better life.
These changes are where mindfulness and awareness come into play. These are the tools to help us take an X-ray or MRI of our mind to determine if everything is in the right place and understand what might be damaged or in need of repair. We also use logic and rational thinking to determine if our approach to problems, thoughts, and emotions make sense in a given situation. Mindfulness allows us to watch how our mind reacts and interacts with itself. It can also allow us to slowly observe how the inner workings of our mind and bodies respond to other people. It gives us tremendous insights into who we are and why we do what we do. By becoming aware, we can change our reactions and habits.
Developing your mindfulness MRI system takes time but is simple to start. The benefits are felt immediately, including decreased stress and improved focus. Actively pursuing mindfulness will reduce your emotional reactions, improve your patience level, and provide cognitive improvements in nearly every activity. We suggest starting with the following meditation.
5 Minutes of Mindful Breathing
- Set a timer for 5 minutes
- Sit upright in a chair.
- Closes your eyes
- Breathe in and out through your nose. Try to focus your attention on a spot between your eyes at the top of your nose.
- Don't try to think relaxing thoughts, just continue to focus on that spot.
- Your mind will wander, and when you notice that you have strayed from that spot, take a breath and return your focus to the site between your nose.
If you would prefer to use video directions, here is a helpful link:
This video is a timer with bells to help when your focus wanders: