The Power of Mindfulness, Part 2

How can a person develop mindfulness to improve the nature of his responses to stressful situations?

In the first part of our series on mindfulness, we discovered that in order to develop mindfulness, you have to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions at all times, even if you’re working on something stressful.

You also have to remind yourself to look inward at all times so you can become a calmer and more relaxed spectator-participant of the world.

Today’s post will center on some advanced techniques that you can also use to master mindfulness. It must be noted early on that there is no shortcut to deep mindfulness and you have to continue practicing if you want to be naturally mindful at all times.

How can you become more mindful despite the presence of stressors?

Mindfulness can be likened to a very sharp sword that can slice stressful situations in half.

However, you have to be willing to wield it before it can help you conquer stress. If you’re ready to vanquish stress through mindfulness, here are some additional steps that will help refine your mindfulness:

  1. Suspend Your Judgments – We now live in a world where people are constantly required by society to choose, decide and judge things. We pass small and big judgments on anyone or anything that comes our way.

The problem with passing judgment all the time is that you end up spending too much mental energy on even the smallest inconveniences of life.

The result is that you will feel exhausted and burnt out even if you are just sitting in the office. Mindfulness requires us to adapt a mindset of acceptance, instead.

How does the mindset of acceptance work?

You must avoid viewing things as positive or negative; instead, you must simply accept what is happening at the present time and mold your action or response to suit your present needs.

As you practice suspending your judgment, you will soon find out that many of the stressors that have been “chasing” you around are actually insubstantial are not deserving of your time, effort or energy.

The fogginess caused by stress will also begin to lift and your mind will become as clear as the sky. A clear mind is something you will definitely need if you want to manage your stress more effectively.

  1. Avoid Instant Reactions – The human brain was designed to create routines or patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are used automatically in different situations.

These predetermined patterns, as you may already know, are not always useful or productive. I call these behaviors and thoughts “reactive elements” of the mind because they come to the surface without the need for conscious thinking.

Instant reactions can foster a life full of stress because it’s easy to let the stress get the upper hand because it feels ‘right’ for the situation.

However, if you continue to let stress get the upper hand, you will become unhappy and less productive in the long term. In order to combat these subconscious reactive elements, you have to practice conscious thinking.

How does conscious thinking occur?

The human mind is divided into two distinct parts: the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind actually gives instructions to the conscious mind. The latter protects the subconscious mind from intrusions (e.g. potentially harmful ideas).

Conscious thinking will require you to shift the power of thought to the conscious mind so you can exert more control over what takes place in your subconscious.
Conscious thinking is also a great way to create actual solutions that you can use to remedy problems for good. The subconscious mind can help with creating solutions but only if it’s not on “autopilot”.

  1. Be More Compassionate – The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines compassion as “having sympathy and pity for the misfortune of other people”.

Choosing to be more compassionate automatically hampers negative judgments and knee-jerk reactions, which then leads to a quieter and more peaceful mind.

Being more compassionate toward other people and their situations in life is a great way to beat stress because your mind will be focused on sympathy rather than on negative thoughts and emotions.

Immersing yourself in compassionate thought and action can also break down the hard shell of pessimism that many people develop as a way of dealing with stressors.

When you see reality as a series of bad situations and misfortunes, you definitely need a dose of compassionate behavior to reverse your pessimism. A person who chooses to be compassionate at all times is more likely to find inner peace and happiness than someone who makes a conscious choice to be critical of other people’s words and actions.