Change who you are right now - A Practice
by Martin Stepek
Take a good look at yourself. Right now. I don't mean in the mirror. I mean inside. How are you feeling? What's on your mind? What state is it in?
This is being mindful - paying attention to what's actually happening in the present moment. It encompasses what we perceive through each of our five senses, plus what's going on in our mind. You can only do one sense or the mind at a time so we can learn to practise mindfulness in sequence - sights, sounds, touch, smell, taste, thoughts or feelings.
A practice I developed to help myself and others hone this skill was to look at our mind from three angles, to see where on a spectrum our mind is at any one time.
The first angle is a spectrum from exhaustion to vibrant energy. Have a light, clear look inside your mind right now. Where on a line from exhaustion to vibrancy of mind are you right now? Don't worry where it lies, and don't try to change it...yet. Just notice, and note that you can notice this state just by choosing to.
Do the same with a spectrum that ranges from restlessness or mass cluttering through to a completely empty, ready, strong mind. Where is your mind along that line?
The third and final one I do in this practice concerns emotions. At one extreme lies deep sadness, unhappiness, or anger, resentment, hatred. At the other end is complete joy of being alive. Gently check which emotion your mind has right now.
Now let's see if we can change things just a little, or maybe more than just a little.
Notice again your tiredness or alertness in your mind. Now breathing in, think to yourself, "Breathing in, I sense life and energy coming into me. Breathing out my body relaxes." Repeat this three times and imagine your mind losing any fatigue, and instead feeling refreshed and alive.
Now do the same with your restlessness. "Breathing in, my mind is clearing. Breathing out , it feel still, peaceful." Repeat three times and imagine your mind as a vast clear globe that is perfectly still.
Now to your emotions. "Breathing in, I allow a little happiness and smile to emerge inside me. Breathing out I enjoy the pleasure of the breath." Repeat three times and imagine your face smiling.
With practice you can learn to notice your state of mind several times a day, and to change it deliberately in the ways described above.
In this way you really do change who you are. You are not the same person ever, not even for two moments in a row. The difference with doing the practices above is that you get to influence which version of you you are at any given time.
Martin Stepek is one of Scotland's foremost teachers in Mindfulness, a published author of three books in the field and a poet. He is co-founder of Ten for Zen a website which aims to bring mindfulness into the lives of individuals across the UK and beyond. To read more about his background visit his website. Martin is a supporter of Wee Seeds growth.