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The Magic of Mindfulness

By Jerry Brownstein

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Mindfulness is a traditional practice that teaches you to be focused on the present moment so that you can make conscious choices in your life. In recent years it has become a major buzzword throughout our society - not just in the spiritual/self-help community, but in science, academia, business and the media. This reflects an emerging global awareness that the way to create positive transformation in our lives and in the world around us is by elevating our individual consciousness. Mindfulness is the key to making this happen, so let’s have a look at how it works.

Open your mind to make conscious choices in life

Each of us has the freedom to choose whom we wish to be every minute of our lives. This is the gift of free will, but most people do not have the ability to use it. Why is that so? The main reason is that our thoughts and actions are dominated by the unconscious programming that we have acquired during our lives. This programmed behaviour is stored in your subconscious mind, and it will always take over when your conscious mind is not paying attention. Numerous studies have shown that for most people the conscious mind is in control for only about 5% of the time, while the other 95% of what we think and do is governed by our subconscious mind. Your conscious mind has the ability to create original thoughts and actions, but your subconscious mind can only follow your past conditioning. So most of the time we are automatically repeating old patterns of behaviour - reacting instead of acting. The way to restore your free will and regain control of your life is through mindfulness, which simply means having the presence and awareness to make conscious choices rather than being run by old unconscious programming.
A couple meditating together
A mindful person remembers to resist their automatic reactions and then chooses to follow the guidance of their inner wisdom. For example, suppose you find yourself in a certain type of situation that has always made you angry in the past. As the incident unfolds you feel the anger start to rise within you, but then you stop for a second. Instead of reacting as you always have, you mentally take a step back and ask yourself this question: Is that who I want to be in this situation? Do I really want to be an angry reacting person, or can I choose a better way to deal with this? Mindfulness gives you the space to make that choice. Instead of blindly reacting with old negative patterns you can choose to handle every situation in a more positive way. This sounds very simple but it can be quite a challenge because you must overcome an entire lifetime of following your subconscious programming - the ideas, actions and beliefs you inherited from society and your past. 
L: Open window, R: A person meditating in front of the sea
The first step in creating this kind of positive transformation in your life is to set your intention to consciously cultivate mindfulness. Just like building muscles requires a commitment to working out at the gym, building the strength to make mindful choices requires a commitment to doing the ‘exercise’ of regular meditation. Meditating as little as five minutes every day is enough to strengthen your mindfulness muscles. Meditation calms your mind and allows you to be aware of all the thoughts that are trying to get your attention. Over time you develop a sense of separation between this stream of thoughts and your true self. You realize that who you are is not the thoughts, but is in fact the one who is watching those thoughts. 

Becoming conscious of your true self as the watcher allows you to create the space for the practice of mindfulness. Remember, the key to mindfulness is being able to step away from your automatic reactions so that you have the opportunity to make a conscious choice of how to act. A regular meditation practice makes it easier for you to step into the space that exists between your unconscious reaction and the possibility of making a conscious choice. This gives you the power to express your personality and behaviour in ways that are aligned with your inner wisdom. Every time that you remember to be mindful, will bring you closer and closer to being the beautiful person who you truly are. This is the magic of mindfulness, and it makes life more joyous in every way - for you and for all of the people whose lives you touch.  

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