Hi everybody, I just saw this post (have been absent from the forum for a while due to work demands, so apologies for that!).
I was so excited to see that Superdad posted this, because for the past 2 months, I have really grabbed hold of "mindfulness" as a personal practice, and it has been SO effective for me. As a single mom who works for *herself* I have a lot of demands that are extremely stressful. So "mindfulness" actually is a fantastic tool in my arsenal of "coping techniques."
Superdad, just to give you an example of how it works beyond the wonderful definitions that people have provided here, this is how I use it:
I was challenged to "practice mindfulness" at least 20 times per day. It is really hard, but once you start, it is an amazing habit that helps.
What I did to kick start it was: I got a stack of post-it notes. On each one, I wrote a Scripture verse that gives me courage or gives me a message of peace or of God's caring and love for me. Then, I put those post-it notes around the house, in key locations. One is on my kitchen counter next to my microwave, for example. One is on my bathroom mirror. Etc.
The way it works is this: Every time I see one of those post-it notes, I read it. I stop. Even if it's just for 2-3 seconds, I force myself to breathe deeply, close my eyes and say those words on the post-it note to myself. I focus on nothing other than what is written on that post-it note. It sounds sort of goofy, and you might think, "OK now. Really. Does that actually do anything for you?"
The person who challenged me to do this told me I would start feeling a lot happier and "lighter" (to quote her). I was extremely cynical, but I thought, "Well, it can't hurt to try."
Oh my goodness! It works! And because they are in key places (the one on the bathroom mirror gets a lot of attention -- hahaha), and because I also work at home alone, I am now doing this on a regular basis.
Also, when I am not using the post-it notes as a "trigger," I now am in the habit of stopping myself to look at the way a leaf is fluttering in the breeze. I breathe in the autumn air and smell the leaves and the grass. I listen to the traffic of the cars going by my house. I feel the cold of the air on my skin. I open my eyes and feel calm.
I think where this comes to your question in relation to gaming ... You could say that if you encounter a troll who is rattling you, step away from the screen. Even if you're in the middle of playing a game, just tell the other players you are taking a short break. Pause your character's play mode. Walk outside and focus on one thing and the beauty of the day. You will realize that whatever is happening to make you upset is a temporary matter. You are strong. You can handle it. The stress begins to exit your body. You can react with kindness. You can choose at that point whether to keep playing the game or shut off the system and read a book or take a walk with your dog.
Sorry if this was long, but I thought this was so important to respond to and to let you know how I implement "mindfulness." It feels odd when you're doing it for the first time, but if you get in a habit, it becomes like breathing. Pretty soon, you'll find yourself just humming a tune without even realizing it.
I agree completely that mindfulness and emotional intelligence should be highlighted more in mainstream education. We are failing the children of today by teaching them rigid outdated curriculum that suits the old boy networks!
Glad you like it Reflective Joy! I understand mindfulness a lot better now thank you. And thank you to everybody else too! I'm still interested in learning more about it so please keep contributing as much as possible to this conversation because I have no one to teach me about this stuff, there seems to be more and more terminology to grasp daily!
ADAM & MARTI: I couldn't have said it better. Mindfulness is definitely about being in the moment and about self awareness. it's not about ridding ourselves of the thoughts or emotions we may be experiencing, but about being aware of them. How our body is responding to stress or distress ( as you pointed out with road rage) it's about acknowledging what we are feeling and why. Conflict arises, when we try to stop feeling the way we do.
GAMERGIRL: You are so right! I think it should be taught more in school! As Adam rightly pointed out, Improving and maintaining EI ( emotional intelligence) is really important. It really can improve how we regulate our emotions and how we process events that may be distressing to us. Moreover, it strengthens our resiliency.
Have any of you applied "Mindful" techniques when up against a negative or challenging situation? What worked or didn't work for you?
Sounds to me that mindfulness is the future, why weren't we taught this at school?ni wish we were taught this stuff instead of trigonometry! So, how can we learn to be mindful? Or is it more practice to be mindful?...
This is 101 self help stuff. Being in the "now", being emotionally aware of how your thoughts are controlling you instead of the other way around. Someone told me another way of looking at this which I find useful. Your emotions are your servants and you are the master. Just because your emotions tell you to be angry, or happy or sad, does not mean you have to obey them. You are in control and it is your thought process after the initial emotional reaction that YOU are in control of. You are the master of how you behave and how you react to emotions. We hear it in everyday expressions like, "get a grip on yourself", "calm down", "control yourself" etc. Many people simply don't understand this and let their emotions rule their life. You can usually spot them losing it over something really trivial and venting their anger like a 2 year old!
Road rage is a great example of this where our emotions take over and someone cutting you up on the road is seen by your primal chip as a threat to your territory or status so you jump on board the primal wagon and start raging and venting rage instead of recognising the emotion and using your thought process to put the emotional response into perspective.
Remember, our emotions are something that we cant control, they are a primal reaction to keep aware of danger etc, how we react to them though is our own choice. Mindfulness, emotional awareness, self awareness, call it what you like, whatever it is it should be practiced daily to avoid living in a state of emotional fragility and stress.
This is a concept many self help programs use. It is about living in the "now" and being aware of your own thoughts and emotions, the things that determine our behaviour. That doesn't mean you don't have to deal with your everyday life, bills, work, kids, bullies, money etc, it means you should be aware, or "mindful" of how you are manifesting your thoughts into emotions that cause stress and anxiety. Getting carried away with what may or may not happen in the future and over-thinking things means you are not experiencing the "now". There are lots of ways to learn how to achieve a state of mindfulness and you can google up loads of videos and sites that will take you through steps to achieve this.
With regards to the internet, mindfulness would be useful for gaining perspective when being targeted by negative people or if you are becoming distressed and emotional. The practice is not new by any means and I think some Buddhist teachings are based around this concept. This is closely linked to Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Socio Emotional Learning (SEL), both of which are starting to creep into mainstream education. About time too!!!!