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Julia Matheson


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buddha’s teachings #101

So as you know (if you follow me on social), I’ve been deep diving into a meditation and mindfulness course for the past 5 weeks. We’re only half way but boy have I learnt so much already.

My biggest take-away so far?

That I can gain so much more peace, sweetness and joy from any moment by simply slowing down, and being truly present to the task at hand. It sounds simple I know, and that’s because it is. I always knew this, but now that I’m actually experiencing it – it’s a whole other ball game.

You see, I am a doer, a rusher, and a goal setter – I’m always thinking about the next thing I want to get done, or running from place to place in a flurry (which heads up you guys – doesn’t feel that great!). My mind LOVES to live in the future, dreaming up visions that excite and inspire me. Now this is a strength of mine, and does serve a purpose, but what I’m realising is that it can also affect my ability to be present in the NOW.

Research shows that practicing mindfulness and meditation increases attention, improves short term memory, regulates emotional impulses, improves planning and increases mental flexibility.

– Dr Craig Hassed & Dr Richard Chambers.

The course I’m studying explores the Buddha’s teachings and his philosophy on living. He knew a thing or two that Buddha. And he may, just may have a thing to teach me.

We are sinking our teeth into his ‘4 Noble Truths’ and the ‘Noble 8-Fold Path’ which probably doesn’t mean anything to you unless you’ve studied his work, but basically explores 30 tools drawn from the Buddha’s teachings from some 2500 years ago. Surprisingly they are just as relevant today, if not more so due to our busy lifestyles and the increased demands on us.

The tools are simple and really effective ways to simplify, focus and enrich your life to make it more satisfying. Life skills if you will that can be applied in daily life.

Buddha says:

When you’re driving, drive. When you are eating, eat. When you are walking, walk.

Get the picture? He was ALL about single-tasking.

You see multi-tasking is very alluring, because it promises “productivity”, “getting sh*t done” and “time management” – all very sought after things. Yet it doesn’t actually help with ANY of that. Because multi-tasking is an illusion. You think you’re getting through multiple tasks at the same time, however what you are actually doing is lots of things pretty badly and not really achieving much at all. . . Well nothing of quality anyway.

We’ve all been there, I know I sure have – you’re stirring a pot on the stove, while chatting to someone on the phone, all the while tending to kids or pets at your feet, and trying to fold the washing or set the table at the same time! It’s life people, we get busy. Navigating the human experience can be tricky. But I bet that dinner wasn’t made with as much love, and the person on the end of that phone line probably didn’t truly feel heard, the kids or pets got shooed away, and the washing or table setting – well that didn’t even happen.

Because when you direct your focus to too many things at once, you end up not being able to focus on anything.

I have really loved practicing the mindful meditations daily. Meditation has always ironically been on my “to-do” list. Hilarious, I know. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but something I struggled to be consistent with or ever truly feel like I was doing it right.

On top of doing the daily meditations, I’m experiencing more mindfulness throughout my day through: mindful eating, mindful walking, the mindfulness of sound and the mindfulness of bodily sensations.  It’s just incredible the things that I’ve never noticed before! Like just how many seeds a strawberry has, and how they feel on my tongue, or how many different leaves of plants I pass when walking the dog every morning, and the different smells in the air during spring time. I’m more aware of physical sensations and how my body is feeling too, like my breath moving in and out of my body throughout the day.

Now that I’m slowing down, and really learning to be present to the sensations, the sounds, the feelings – it’s a whole sensory world that I never fully experienced before.

So, the question is – is your mind full, or are you being mindful?

How can you cultivate more mindfulness in your daily life?

Notice your breathing. As you breathe in, be aware that you are breathing in. As you breathe out, notice that you are breathing out.

– Thich Nhat Hanh.

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