Once you’ve got rid of the habit of self-sabotage, there’s still the challenge of continuous mindfulness practice. Every day may be a new opportunity for you to plan to self-awareness. Coming back to this realization and moment is a great achievement in itself, but it’s not enough. Maintaining the mindfulness practice requires continuous practice and effort.
But there are ways in which you can learn to sustain deep focus, deal with sensory and emotional distractions, and hold yourself to this moment while being present and aware without judgment. Through these continuous efforts, in no time, mindful living will become a habit for you.
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Sustaining Mindful Focus:
Sustaining mindful focus is one of the foremost challenging things you will learn to have to do. It is rather no surprise and strange to think it would be so difficult because it is difficult, and it’s completely normal to think this way. Holding our attention to what’s happening within and around us without any distractions is not at all easy.
Despite all the accolades mainstream media offers about mindful living and meditation, which is true. But the challenges of practicing mindfulness are rarely discussed. Which usually made people think that the challenges they are facing while practicing are not usual.
And due to this, it’s very common for many people to urge down on themselves about the interruptions they are facing while in the practice. People often say “my mind is too busy” or “I lose focus all the time.”
But the reality is, that’s a part of the mindfulness practice or meditation process! So every time you notice your busy mind wandering here and there, just bring your focus back to the pure awareness, then only you will be able to maintain your mindfulness practice.
Then in no time, you’ll come to note that it’s quieter in your mind again. When it does get busy again, just remember to bring your attention back to your practice, then it’ll not wander as far, and for as long before you’re ready to call it back to your mindfulness practice.
You can also measure these improvements with these exercises:
The following exercise is often performed weekly over a variety of months to assist you to track personal shifts in your mindfulness practice. It looks like an easy exercise, but over the future, it’s validating. We often underestimate how far we’ve come and undermine the facility of our efforts. Because genuine changes happen via small, and consistent alterations.
1: Set a timer for about sixty seconds.
During that second, set your awareness to your breath, as it goes in and out. Remember, it is normal for your mind to wander whilst you specialize in the standard of your inhales and exhales.
2: When your mind wanders again, note to yourself how far it went
And what is the continuous thought that is disturbing your focus? How many thoughts were attached to the first shift in focus? Did your mind wander to several different thoughts and topics, or did it shift then refocus?
Were you able to continue to sense your breath while your mind was wandering on different thoughts or places? Did your attention or focus return to the breath before the timer rang again?
3: Record your observations in your mindfulness journal (Yes, it’s essential to keep one).
It is recommended that you keep a separate section in your journal for this mindfulness practice; that way, you’ll find your tracking records. Keep the principles of mindfulness with you, remembering to observe without judgment, commentary, or problem-solving.
4: Repeat this exercise weekly.
Do not re-read the previous week’s observations. After six to 12 weeks, return and read your first two or three entries, then read your last two or three. Write a summary of the changes you noticed in your ability to carry focus and rest assured that your small, steady efforts are making a difference.
Distractions occur for any number of deeper reasons; our personality type and associated vulnerabilities usually dictate what it’s that tends to distract us the foremost. External sensory input like external noises around us, especially noise, tends to interrupt mindfulness, as does an individual’s internal emotional processing. But you can train your mind to cope with these sensory distractions by applying mindfulness to each of your senses in a systematic way.
Common systematic practices include:
- taking note of one instrument during a piece of music,
- watching the space between leaves of trees, or not scratching once you have an itch, etc.
As you strengthen your ability to master your senses, you’ll shy away from them more once they interrupt your mindfulness practice. continuous mindfulness practice helps you discover how your mind works and what situations, thoughts, or feelings seem to trigger your stress or panic episodes.
While quieting your mind could seem sort of a great idea, the journey to quietude takes you through some uncomfortable places in your mind, for instance, some past traumatic experiences, etc. The distracting emotional pain or mental negativity is enough to form many of us shy away from mindfulness, but if we stick through the temporary pain, it will be worth it in the long run.
Unpacking the actual reasons behind your mental busyness could be challenging, but with energy (and external support of friends and loved ones), you’ll come to know the roots of your emotional distractions and weed them out.
Just cut yourself some slack, and allow yourself some time. And just investigate the reality of a troubling situation/past and apply a spiritual concept to the present learning process.
For instance, a bank teller who was very frightened by a robbery found her way out of the fear by having compassion for the thief’s socioeconomic barriers; and by acknowledging the fact that no one wants to be a robber.
Via the virtue of compassion, the teller’s repetitive distraction or fear loosened, and she was better ready to not only focus her mind in practice but also live life with greater awareness of people around her.
The continuous process of investigating the cause and roots of emotional distractions, weeding them out, and replacing them with positive or happy, or spiritual principles helps limit habitual emotional distractions and brings continual improvement to mindfulness meditation practice.
(Also Read: 5 Mantras For Mindful Living)