The concept of mindfulness is easy enough to understand. The idea is to focus your awareness on the present moment.
You acknowledge and accept your thoughts and feelings as part of that presence without letting thoughts of the past, or anxieties over the future, dictate what is real and actually happening now.
There’s no place to go, nothing to attain…. It’s realising you are already here so there’s no place else to go… What happens now is what matters… The future we want is here now – we’re already in it. (Jon Kabat-Zinn).
Mindfulness is easy to cultivate in the present moment when you sit down and think about life logically. Indeed, this is why meditation is so useful, because it is a tool to temper the monkey mind and center our awareness back to middle ground, so to speak.
When Mindfulness Is Difficult to Come By
Many people find the cultivation of a state of mindfulness difficult, or at least very difficult to remain in for a prolonged period.
Of course there are numerous mindfulness exercises and meditation exercises that we can use as practice to entrain the mind and subsequently make it more present more often.
But there are times in life where a run of bad luck, emotional trauma, or a generally stressful period make it extraordinarily difficult to find that present state of mind and begin to think cohesively, logically and mindfully.
In such times we are led by our emotions and those feelings of sadness and symptoms of anxiety such as butterflies in the stomach and an inability to concentrate or think about anything else but the negative situation we are in, and a subsequent inability to relax and sleep.
Even though we know the state we are in is not conducive to good mental or physical health, and that stress, anxiety and fear is not going to help the situation, and we know that taking a mindfulness approach will benefit us immensely, we don't have the mental power or will in that moment to act upon it.
We aren't able to literally force ourselves into a meditation, breathing exercise, a walking ritual, a chancing or any other kind of mental entrainment that will re-centre us and connect us to the reality of our situation, and ultimately create a clarity that will enable us to move forward.
I can definitely relate to this.
This year has been an extremely trying year. A number of negative situations have arisen that I have no control over. You get swept up in this wave of emotion and the mind dictates how you should be feeling. You are on emotional auto-pilot.
For example: there was a situation recently where I was quite anxious about a particular family problem.
In the back of my mind I knew I should take time out and do my meditative breathing exercise, which I usually do at least a few times a week. This really helps me re-centre my mind and clears away the cobwebs, so to speak.
Even though I knew I should take time out and do this exercise, in that moment it felt like I should stay attached to the negative emotions – as if this was the right thing to do, as if it was normal and what everyone else would do.
In short, what I am saying here is that it is very easy to cultivate mindfulness when you are happy and everything is going well in your life. And not even necessarily when it everything is going well, but rather simply plodding along in a routine that you feel quite content with.
But when the odds are stacked against you and you are facing money problems, job insecurity, family illness or relationship instability, it is not so easy to access a state of mindfulness that will provide you with emotional stability, metal clarity and a clearer pathway forward.
In a very simplistic way, I compare this to a millionaire teaching those who are really struggling for money that they should remain positive and focus on the long-term goal instead of their short-term worries.
It's always very easy to speak so positively when you are already at the top of the mountain.
How Hypnosis Can Help You Access Mindfulness
So what can we do when we are in these situations?
What can we do when we know that cultivating a state of mindfulness would really benefit us but we feel powerless to do so; when we lack the motivation to do so because we have lost the inspiration to take that next step forward.
In these situations it really helps to listen to people you value.
For example, perhaps there is a thought leader who inspires you that you can listen to on audio or video, a chapter in a book you have read previously that really made an impact on your life, or a poem that you can turn to.
It is a way of accessing a mindfulness state through someone else and their teachings.
This action requires little mental effort and no physical effort other than to press play.
Personally I like audio.
Because I have been a big music fan my entire life, I am very at home with putting on headphones and isolating myself inside a wall of sound. So listening to some mindfulness audio in a situation like this is fairly effortless and natural.
Hypnosis audio is perfect for that. Indeed mindfulness and hypnosis are aligned and have many similarities, because a state of mindfulness is akin to the completely present state of awareness you are in when being led through a hypnosis session by a voice.
Hypnosis is able to reach us on a subconscious level. The subconscious narrates our life. It is a culmination of everything we have experienced in life and is responsible for our opinions and judgements of self and the world around us.
So if we change our subconscious beliefs it changes our actions and how we deal with adversity in life. This means that it becomes much easier for us to access a state of mindfulness and take a more “awakened” and aware approach to life's difficulties.
Emotional problems work much more on the “feeling level” than the “thinking level” which is why just trying to think differently is so hard when trying to cope with anxiety, fear, feelings of low self worth and negative thoughts.
You can use hypnosis to help you feel differently, which then makes you think differently about a situation. Hypnosis then encourages healthy mental behavior in the future.
I've used the Uncommon Knowledge mindfulness hypnosis recordings a number of times when I want to snap out of a negative narrative, or as I say, when I have fallen into story.
The mindfulness pack works on 5 levels:
- Mindfulness Meditation Training: create space in your mind to be ‘in the present'.
- Inner Peace: step out from the challenges and irritations of everyday life and step into a tranquil, serene place of rest and calm.
- Stop and Smell the Roses: cast off the human ‘do-ing' cloak and become a human ‘be-ing'.
- Know Yourself: calmly and clearly see the many parts of yourself, and understand your motivations and behavior.
- Quiet Mind: bring some peace and stillness to a crowded mind.
Note that this isn't the type of hypnosis where you lose control of your voluntary action, but rather more like a guided meditation.
While self hypnosis, which is the category listening to hypnosis audios falls under, is generally goal orientated and used for overcoming fears, curing addiction, and helping with self-confidence issues, etc., it is certainly very well suited to mindfulness practice.
Indeed, if we look at meditation practices through the ages we see a number of hypnotic practices too, such as om chanting, mantra recital, prayer, drumming, and listening to hypnotic sounds such as Tibetan bowls and chimes.
As I always note, you do not need to meditate in the traditional sense to engage in mindfulness meditation. There are many ways to reclaim your mind, so to speak, and to bring the mind to centre and into a state of present awareness.
We are all individuals with individual preferences and different needs at different times in our lives. So depending on the situation, one particular mindfulness discipline may not be appealing to you or indeed accessible.
Indeed, there are many people who are attracted to the concept of mindfulness but reject it when they hear the word meditation.
But when I introduce those same people to mindfulness hypnosis audios, or walking meditation, or a simple two-minute breathing exercise, they feel more inclined to give it a go because it doesn't have the stereotypical image of meditating cross-legged like a monk for hours that they tend to have lodged in their mind.
There are many roads to travel in life, and they all lead to the same destination.