Mindfulness practice helps you experience presence – being there in the moment. It’s like an ‘aha’ moment, a little wake-up call that says “Here’s where you are – not over there or there.”
Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to last – you need very little to make a difference.
The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is a term from medicine, popularised by self-help writer Tim Ferris.
Just a touch on the rudder
Just as a light touch on the rudder can change the direction of a boat so it avoids a sandbank, a second or two of awareness can make all the difference. Just ‘coming back’ at the right moment can see you right.
You find yourself running upstairs to fetch something – and you remember what it is before you get to the top of the stairs. As you put your keys down, you notice where you’re putting them – so later you haven’t lost them. You go online to look something up in Google and before you’re drawn into Facebook and other notifications – you remember what you went in for!
A moment is all you need
Beginners to mindfulness often idealise it. They think the ideal state is constantly ‘on’ like a searchlight. They get frustrated because they’ve no sooner ‘come back’ then they’re off again in random thoughts. But actually that coming back moment is probably all you needed. Just as anything beyond the MED is wasteful, so is the energy you expend saying ‘I should be more mindful!’ Coming back is the everyday, real, down-to-earth experience of mindfulness. Meditation is the non-everyday, special exercise you do that familiarises you with your mind. The more you do that, the more these moments will come to you, without a lot of effort and self-criticism.
In creativity, it can make the difference between throwing away a new idea because some internalised, imagined colleague says it’s rubbish, and just saying ‘having a thought that it isn’t going to work’ and carrying on developing it.
I’ll be looking more at this and other ways mindfulness helps creativity in the upcoming 4-week course Mindfulness for Creativity. Find out more.