by Carol Hendershot
The practice of mindfulness is on the rise, as our distracted, overworked culture belatedly embraces the value of careful focus and of slowing down. Teachers are using mindfulness to increase focus in their classrooms. Business owners are using it to help reduce stress in their workplaces. Individuals are using it to relieve anxiety, improve eating habits, and defeat self-doubt. Mindfulness isn’t a cure-all—it’s not a way to solve all of our problems, change the world or even repair our own defects. Mindfulness builds our confidence by allowing us to see our problems from a fresh perspective.
Mindfulness asks us to meet each moment of our lives with clarity, curiosity and openness. When we live with clarity, we view our experiences as they are, not as we expect, desire or fear they will be. With curiosity, we approach our days with an attitude of wonder. With openness, we refrain from judgment—and don’t immediately assign an emotion or outcome to a situation.
The practice of mindfulness means learning to live within that mindset, as well as maintaining a careful focus on our present moment.
With mindfulness we can quiet the chatter in our heads: the meddling voice that tells us we are not capable, or that replays an awkward encounter over and over again, or that suggests we aren’t worthy.
Our internal critic, sometimes called the monkey mind, can be pretty harsh.
Mindfulness also can help us manage negative, fear-based thoughts. Meditation expert Sharon Salzberg put it this way: “Mindfulness is being aware of our direct experience and the stories we tell ourselves about our experience and the ability to know the difference.” There is incredible freedom in realizing that these thoughts are not facts but simply stories—and it’s in this freedom that confidence can naturally emerge.
The confidence we are talking about is the certainty we have in our abilities, our value and in our social correctness. It’s a feeling of being at peace with who we are in every interaction, in every experience, and in every moment. Our happiness and prosperity often hinge on it.
Seem worthwhile? Here are five tips for training your mind for mindfulness and confidence.
Begin with a five-minute meditation. Set a timer so that you won’t have to worry about keeping track of time. Slowly increase the time as you feel more comfortable in the practice.
It’s much better to meditate for even one minute every day than sixty minutes once a week or once a month.
Pick Your Spot
Find a pleasant place where you feel at ease and will want to return. Place your body in a comfortable position either sitting or lying down. You can sit on the floor (using a pillow or cushion for support) or sit upright in a chair with your feet resting firmly on the floor.
Find Your Awareness
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Take a moment to feel where your body makes contact with the floor or chair. When you feel settled, shift your attention to your breath and feel the sensations of your breath flowing in and flowing out.
Bring it Back
Your mind will wander to thoughts of the past and future—that’s what the mind does naturally and you aren’t doing anything wrong. Simply notice where your mind has gone and gently bring your attention back to feeling the sensations of your breath.