Change, Mindfulness and Riding a Bicycle
By Julian Jaffe and Michelle Galbraith
Getting to Mindfulness: Calm, Aware, Purpose, Open-mind, and Willing
Do you feel that the inertia of life is pushing you along a path you don’t want or can’t see along? Change is happening all around you, technology is disrupting what you used to take for granted and you are unable to adapt? You know you need to do something, but can’t get off the ‘treadmill’ to find out? You think Mindfulness will help, but you can’t access it?
Here, we’ll use the descriptions of a bicycle and riding a bicycle to illustrate the nature of the understanding Mindfulness problems many people face.
If you were to ask someone to describe a bicycle they might pedantically say, “a vehicle consisting of two wheels held in a frame one behind the other, propelled by pedals and steered with handlebars attached to the front wheel” (oxforddictionaries.com).
And if you were to ask, “what is a bicycle and how do you use I?” —- you might get an answer more along the lines of, “it’s a two-wheeled vehicle which you’ll need to have strong enough legs to power and good enough balance to ride. You’ll need to learn how to balance and pedal while also steering, and this will take a bit of practice before you can do it comfortably.”
If you ask what Mindfulness is you’ll usually get answers along the lines of, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” (mindful.org – Kabat-Zinn ) or “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”(Google definition).
But this is like the first description of a bicycle above – it doesn’t describe what mindfulness requires you to do to ‘ride’ it. For some people this is fine: they have enough of a grasp of the concepts to learn what Mindfulness is, with relative ease. Others don’t.
If we look at the elements of mindfulness that you’ll need to master it, things hopefully, get a lot clearer.
To practice mindfulness, we believe the following building blocks are necessary:
- calmness and ability to accept change
- awareness of, and in, yourself and what’s around you
- purpose and objectives — why you are doing this, and what do you want to achieve
- open-minded — able to see things from a potentially new and different perspective
- willing and wanting, with conviction, to learn something that you don’t necessarily understand to start with
Some people have some of these capabilities already, so learning to re-purpose them for Mindfulness won’t be too difficult. But, what do you do if you don’t have these abilities? A lot of people just give up and get frustrated at their inability to benefit from what is widely described and accepted as being very beneficial to their well-being.
To address the inability of many to grasp Mindfulness, we go back to the basic, building blocks. We start with Willing and Wanting first, because without that you are not going to get very far.
Willing and Wanting
Why is this important? Because, without drive, surmounting the hurdles and blocks you’ll come across when you are learning, is going to be impossible. The best way of motivating yourself is first to understand why you want to do something and what it means to you — your Purpose. Then, what are you wishing to achieve and within what sort of (realistic) period — your Objectives. Realistically it’ll take at least 3 weeks if not 3 months to embed enduring changes in your mind and body (depending on the basis you are starting from). There are very few quick fixes in life, despite what the media and social pressures will have you think. Define your purpose, set your goals.
If you are not open minded, and these concepts are not within your current domain, how are you going to accept something that might well be a totally new concept for you? This may be a bigger hurdle than you might expect. We’ve taught several people who think that they are open minded and want to learn, but their prior training and mind-set doesn’t allow them to shift from their existing mental models. We understand why this happens and what this is, and show you how to adapt from old to new mental-models.
Most people will have a pretty good idea of what calmness is, but not how to get there easily. It’s often easier to identify what it is not: it’s not tension, it’s not being wound-up, it’s not being angry, it’s not panicking, it’s not a buzzing brain. Calmness in Mindfulness is a prerequisite. If you are not already calm when you try to get into a Mindful state, you’ll need to be.
Here’s why, using an analogy from Zen practices: if you throw a stone into a pond with a lot of waves on the surface, you’ll not see the ripples from the stone on the water. But, if the water is calm, you’ll not only see the splash more clearly, you’ll also see the ripples and how they propagate across the pond surface. The purpose of body and mind calmness is to be able to differentiate between the signal (stone splash, ripples) and the noise (waves on the pond). Only once you are calm enough will you be able to feel and be aware of the signal — in this case, energy movement.
Here, awareness is the perception of, and the ability to, tangibly feel sensations inside of your body and mind. Again, a strange and often unbelievable concept for many. We use several tools and techniques to introduce you to the feeling of moving energy within and around your body. Once you recognise the patterns of internal behaviour, the sensations become much more obvious.
You are likely to experience something very new and transformational once you can feel such energy movement. We’ve seen people laugh with joy and cry with disbelief when this happens. It is very empowering, yet also humbling. It can also be the start of a new journey of enlightenment: once you become aware of senses you were not aware of before; the pace can step up quickly. Most people are aware of their 5 main senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. But there are many, many more to discover – some claim that there are as many as 24 separate senses (a sense being something you have a sensor or detector for).
Having conducted many workshops and classes in Reiki, Moving Energy and the Moving Arts, we understand there is a need for a simple way for people to access the wonders that build up to Mindfulness. We will be conducting a few Awareness Through Your Senses Workshops around the principles outlined above.
If you self-identify with one or more of the following, this workshop is for you:
- your read the whole of this blog, like it, but feel a certain worry about what you don’t yet know and want to find out more
- you know that your mind and body are out-of-sync – and need to find out how to link them
- You are unaware that you are unaware – but know you need to try something different
- You are aware that you are unaware – but don’t know how to become aware
- You know that you don’t know what awareness is and haven’t been able to find out how to become more aware
- You know you need to change but you think you are too busy to find out how
- You know you need to change but the inertia and momentum of what you currently do, stops you learning something new
Please contact: Julian (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Michelle (email@example.com) for details of our workshops and joining instructions.