‘My key to dealing with stress is simple: just stay cool and stay focused.’ Ashton Eaton. How can a person develop mindfulness to improve 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 (the last 3 of our 7) that you can also use to master mindfulness. We must note 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.
As you do, the practice becomes a habit and a rewarding way of life. You feel grounded and centered in all situations.
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. Suspend Your Judgments — We live in a world where society constantly requires us to choose, decide and judge things. We pass small and big judgments on anyone or anything that comes our way – in the office, at lunch, in traffic, at home, and just about everywhere.
One problem with passing judgment all the time is that you spend too much mental energy on even the smallest inconveniences of life. All this insignificant judging leaves can leave you feeling exhausted and burnt out, even if you are just sitting in the office. Mindfulness, on the other hand, requires you to adapt a mindset of acceptance. It is the way it is; just let it go. How does the mindset of acceptance work? You have to 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. 007b As you practice suspending your judgment, you will soon realize that many of the stressors that have been “chasing” you around are actually insubstantial and unworthy 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 wonderful feeling. A clear mind is something you will definitely need if you want to manage your stress more effectively.Avoid Instant Reactions — The human brain creates routines or patterns of thoughts and behaviors that activate automatically in different situations.These predetermined patterns, as you may already know, are not always useful or productive. You could call them “reactive elements” of the mind because they come to the surface without the need for conscious thinking.
Instant reactions that respond to impulse can easily give stress the upper hand and foster a life full of stress. If you continue to let stress rule, you will become unhappy and less productive in the long term.In order to combat these subconscious ‘knee-jerk’ 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 conscious mind protects the subconscious from intrusions, such as potentially harmful ideas. The conscious mind also gets its instructions from the subconscious mind. Conscious thinking requires 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 a great way to create actual solutions that you can use to remedy problems for good. The subconscious mind can also help with creating solutions, as long as it’s not on “autopilot”. 007c 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. This leads to a quieter, more peaceful and level-headed mind. Being more compassionate toward other people and their situations in life is a great way to beat stress because it focuses your mind on sympathy rather than 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 view 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.
While Part 1 of this Mindfulness series guided you through your inward self-awareness and hyper-focus, the advanced steps in Part 2 centered on your attitude and behavior toward the outside world. It takes practice to remind yourself to center yourself inwardly so you can best respond outwardly. When you do this, the rewards are self-motivating. Make it a practice to be mindful and you will be, inwardly and outwardly, the picture of poise, self-confidence, and peace.