Getting Rid of Want 3: Mindfulness

“Poverty is not the absence of goods but rather the overabundance of desire”

– Plato

Mindfulness is best described by John Kabat-Zinn as “…paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Being mindful of the present moment can reduce habituation and therefore craving.

In one study of habituation, 3 Zen practitioners were placed in a room with their eyes closed and a clicking noise was made 20 times in a row at 15 second intervals,  their brain waves monitored. When the study had been done with non-Zen Practitioners (‘ordinary’ people) their brainwave patterns showed that by the 5th click habituation had set in and the subjects no longer noticed the sound. In contrast the Zen practitioners responded to each repeated click as fully as the first.

By cultivating the Zen mindset of being open to moment as you can reduces the sense of habituation, therefore craving.

After starting to discuss mindfulness in 3 previous blogs (here, here and here) I have to admit to distracting myself and I am going to return to the subject in the very near future. If you want to learn more about you can attend my “Day of Mindfulness Seminar” or my forthcoming (if I ever get it finished) guide to mindfulness ebook. Sorry. Plug Over…

So I am not going to go into mindfulness too much here, but the good news is you do not need to become a Zen Master or run off to a Buddhist monastery (far from it, most Zen practitioners are lay people rather than monks – people with every day jobs and lives), you can cultivate mindfulness by following a few simple principles:

1) Draw Your Attention into Your Body.

Pay attention to your body, check your posture and relax any areas of tension, move your attention so that you can feel your hips and “sit” into your hips. When you move, pay attention to the movement, whether that is walking or reaching for something or whatever

2) Focus on Your Breath

Don’t try and force it or change it, just focus on it. By focusing on it you will find it will naturally slow and deepen and you will find yourself calmer and more relaxed.

3) Do Something Deliberately

Pick something you do every day, like cleaning your teeth for example, and really pay attention to it, rather than just doing it whilst daydreaming about something else…

4) Be Polite

By making the effort to be polite to the people around you (saying “please” or “thank you” for example) you are forced to be more mindful of your surrounds and slow down!

5) Be Gentle

The Taoists have a saying of only apply “4 ounces” of pressure to whatever you touch. Now, it doesn’t mean exactly 4 ounces, but means being gentle with everything you interact with, both physically and psychologically.

We will look at my final suggestion for getting rid of wanted in this mini-series tomorrow.