Saturday, 12 March 2016

Mindfulness


Let’s do something different today, shall we? Well, today, I am going to start with taking your class attendance! Yes, you heard me right! Today, I am going to start with taking some class attendance. So, let me start.

(Name?
Present.
Name?
Present.)


Present! Present… of course. Present… are you sure?





You know what? We are often "not present" in our own lives. Most of us have a hard time being present in our present moment. Why? Because we are easily distracted! Because, all the time, we are habitually examining past events; or, we are constantly chasing new goals.



A recent study published by the Harvard University says that on an average, our minds are lost in thought almost 47% of the waking hour. 47%!! Now we're not here for that long anyway, but to spend almost half of our life lost in thought and potentially quite unhappy, I don't know, it just kind of seems tragic, won’t you say?




A very good morning, dear Toastmasters!



Today I am going to talk about the concept of Mindfulness.





What is mindfulness?


Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives. Non-judgmentally! It will not eliminate life's pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body. It helps us recognise and step away from vicious patterns of reactions to everyday events. It helps us to cultivate clarity, insight, and understanding. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be fully present in our life and work, and improve our quality of life.


As is customary, the definition of mindfulness can be broken down into an ABC code.


The ABC of mindfulness

A is for awareness - Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – what’s going on in your mind and body.

B is for "Being" with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.


C is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices - responding, rather than reacting.


This is what mindfulness is all about. It’s a way of waking up to life. It is a way of leading your life in an open, curious and accepting way where you constantly, consciously choose to be present in the moment. In that way mindfulness is the very opposite of the everyday disconnectedness we’re usually in.



Mindfulness and undivided attention to tasks help us to make the most of our time and energy and as a result, the productivity as well as quality of our efforts and much higher.


How many of us in this room have kids? Can we show our hands?


Ever wondered why it’s so difficult to teach discipline to kids, to tell them now it’s time to eat and now it’s time to sleep. They’d eat when they’re hungry, they’d sleep when they’re sleepy! And when they play, they’d play away to glory.


Breaking news!! The reason is – mindfulness. All human beings are born with it!! Kids often put their undivided attention on the task in hand and let go of consciousness of time and routine.


However as we grow up, we unlearn mindfulness and embrace chaos. We gather experience and memories, and often, chew more than we eat. We learn ambitions and goals, and we learn to sacrifice our present for our future. We think that will help us in our goals. However, what happens is that we burn out. We get stressed. We need respite, we need rescue. We need to unwind. Our daily routines suffocate us; we get bored with our jobs. And worst, we cannot stop thinking about it! We just cannot stop thinking about it. The stress of chasing our goals exhaust us so much that we find ourselves coming back to learn it again. Like we are doing it right now!



Why do we need mindfulness?


“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” ― John MiltonParadise Lost

We are often at the receiving end of our mind’s pattern and process. The result, of course, is that we get stressed. You know, the mind whizzes away like a leaf in face of a storm, lots of difficult, confusing emotions, and toxic thoughts occupy us, and we don't really know how to deal with that. And the sad fact is that we are so distracted that we're no longer present in the world in which we live. We miss out on the opportunities and the beauties of the present moment! We do not stop to listen to the birds sing or to watch the rain fall. We get too engrossed in our own maze. We miss out on living, present tense.


It is possible to be happy by taking control of our thoughts, of our minds.

How many of you have read this book by Robin Sharma – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari? In his book he says how we are often ignorant and indulgent about how our minds work. We indulge the negative, toxic thoughts and that is such a waste of our mind and energy. He suggests that we must make conscious effort to safeguard our thoughts like a bouncer or an armed security guard.


Past:

Isn’t it true that we chew more than we can eat when it comes to ruminating about our past tense? Don’t we often get into a toxic loop of regrets, of missed buses and about trains that have left the station, about people we hold grudges against and anger towards, or givings we could not forgive?


Future:

We think that somewhere ahead there will be something better waiting for us. We think that if we’re successful enough, somewhere down the road we will find happiness. We think that we are all in some tunnel, and only at the end of the tunnel there will be some light. Bad news! Happiness doesn’t work like that. In fact, happiness works the just other way around. Happiness works when we switch on the light, right here, right now!


This is not to say that we should not spend any time thinking about past or future, no! Of course, we need to assess our past actions and experiences to be able to learn from them. We need to have a goal in mind for the future, a dream, so that we can work to fulfill it. We need to spend some time thinking of our past and future. But the question is, do we know how much. DO we control it? Do we control our thoughts, or do our thoughts control us?



Do we choose what we think?



The bad news is – no! Rather, our thoughts control us.



And the crazy thing is that everybody just assumes, that's the way life is, so we've just kind of got to get on with it. That's really not how it has to be. You can take charge of your life. You can take charge to be present here and now. You can bring about your own happiness.



How do we get mindfulness?


Of course it is not easy to do. It will not happen overnight. Like anything good in life, this also can be achieved only through a good amount of practice and intentions.


Funny, but to think of it… yes, it is essential! It is essential to be able to get back the control of our mental patterns and thoughts processes. Today, I will tell you about the concept of “mindfulness”. Mindfulness – the art of being present, here and now, with your full mind.



But we need to know how to do it. We need an exercise. We need a framework to learn how to be more mindful. Let us start with a little test on mindfulness, right here!


Please close your eyes for a minute, and take a deep breath. Take another. Now… take your mind to your feet. Feel the feet on the floor, resting against the concrete floor… Feel your toes, stretch and curl them, if you would… just, think of the feet and the toes, nothing else?


Okay, time over! How many of you were thinking ONLY about your feet? How many times did your mind wander away?


I urge you to find five minutes in your daily routine to practice this. Just close your eyes and observe where your thoughts travel, and then quietly try to bring them back to a focus point. If you are interested, as a next step you can look up “mindfulness” on the internet and follow the instructions to be able to practice it more thoroughly.


If we try this consciously, we would be aware of what we really do with this incredible thing we have – the mind! And the, we’d also be able to slowly bring back the control of our thoughts into our hand. We would be able to live more in our present tense.


Shall we?




Over to you, Toastmaster!



Project 10 - Inspire Your Audience
An inspirational speech motivates an audience to improve personally, emotionally, professionally, or spiritually and relies heavily on emotional appeal. It brings the audience together in a mood of fellowship and shared desire, builds the audience’s enthusiasm, then proposes a change or plan and appeals to the audience to adopt this change or plan.
Time:
8 - 10 minutes
Objectives:
 • 
To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.