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u/pbw · 11 pointsr/Mindfulness

I think mindfulness is an open awareness of everything including the state of your own mind. The goal isn't to stop your mind from wandering, that's not possible. The goal is to notice when it does, and then, if you choose to, redirect your attention back on the present moment.

People hear this and they go "Yeah I get it, but isn't the REAL goal to stop your mind from wandering? Because that's what I want." Ultimately if you are mindful it is extremely likely you will spend less hours of the day with a wandering mind. But that wasn't the goal, that's a side effect.

In "complex adaptive systems", like people, you generally do not want your goal to be the thing you want to achieve. This isn't an opinion it's like a solid theorem or something, I can't remember where I read it though, but it's like a math thing, it's just how things work.

If a coach told the team their goal was to "score more points than the other team" how good of a coach would that be? Obviously they want to score more points, but that cannot be their *goal*. Their goal should be something like "move the ball up the field" or "maintain possession" or "keep it on the outside" or "get the ball to the Italians".

The greatest college basketball coach of all time John Wooden famously said that winning was NEVER his goal and it should should never be the player's goal. The goal was to play your absolute best. If you played your best and lost, that is great you succeeded. If you didn't play your best and won, then you failed, zero celebration for that, you were chewed out for that, you got extra conditioning for that.

How did this "not trying to win" philosophy work out? "In Wooden’s 27 years as the Bruins’ head coach, his teams won an unprecedented 10 national championships, including seven straight at one point in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The next closest coaches in terms of titles won? That would be Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp with a meager four each." [1]

Wooden always famously started new players off by teaching them to lace up their shoes. He drilled into them principles like enthusiasm, team spirit, initiative, loyalty, self-control. He had a strict no profanities policy: that was a demonstration you didn't have self-control and lack of self-control would lead to fouls which could decide games. However the goal wasn't "commit less fouls" it was "don't use profanity on the court". All these things resulted in winning games without ever adopting "win games" as a goal. [2]

You have to embrace "learn to notice when your mind wanders and redirect yourself back to the present moment" as the goal. If you do that 1,000 times a day that's great. That's 1000x better than not noticing your mind wandered. And you have to work on it. Most likely for your whole life. Meditation is something where the people who have done it for 40,000 hours, essentially all day every day, still feel it's worthwhile to do more of it. And mindfulness is something you can practice even when not meditating.

I do think you can notice changes in weeks or months, but it might be years before it feels "life changing". However your mileage may vary, might go better or worse than that for you.

[1] -

[2] -

See also:

u/soutioirsim · 2 pointsr/Mindfulness


As you meditate more, you may come to realise that it's the identification of yourself with an emotion which causes a significant amount of suffering (not the emotion itself). For example, I suffered from quite bad anxiety when around large numbers of people (lectures, meetings, etc). Pre-mindfulness, I would become anxious which leads to a freight train of thoughts such as: "what if this gets worse?", "what if I have a full-blown panic attack in front of all these people?", "I can't cope with this". Notice how all these thoughts have an I in them; it's all self-referential and believing that this emotion is you. I found depression is similar but the thoughts are more like: "why do I feel like this?", "I'm more depressed than everyone else", "I'm not normal; I'm going to be like this forever".

The aim of mindfulness is to accept our emotions, but probably more importantly is to also change how we relate to our emotions and this is the aspect which takes time, patience and persistance. So please, please, please, keep on meditating!

> I almost don't want to accept my sad emotions

I understand this and is extremely difficult. To completely give in to your emotions is almost an art. Try it as a sort of "experiment" if sadness comes up in meditation; try to completely let the sadness in. See how it feels in your body, if it creates any tension, where it sits, if there's a change in breathing, if there's a change in temperature etc.


This probably will happen to a certain extent, but I would argue that this brings a freedom that the majority of the population is unaware from.

The next time you're on a train/bus or at a party, have a look at the people around you. A lot of people going to work are grasping for that next step up the career ladder or that pay rise, hoping it will be them happiness when they are at the top or can afford those new, more expensive shoes they've always wanted. People are driven by thought processes which ultimately won't make them happy. Again with people at a party; how many people look at ease? You have people desperately trying to fit in, which is fueled by feelings of anxiety and fear of failure. You have people desperately trying to be "cool", to fulfill this story/narrative that they are cool and popular. If not, their identity crumbles and they are miserable.

Mindfulness helps us step out of our own narrative and truly live. Instead of focusing on money, status, intellectualism, athleticism, etc, you can simply be here now. This will generally make you more compassionate as well.

I would argue that the less we identify with the self, the more freedom we have. I had a similar crisis of identity when I started meditating. I was a keen athlete and was always striving for better and faster. After meditating for a while though, I realised that this was primarily driven by anxiety and feel of failure. All of a sudden I had zero motivation to train and compete! What was the point? To me it didn't matter anymore. This was problematic as exercise really helped my mental health. The solution I found was to carry on training/exercising, but this time the aim was to simply enjoy the process. Be present in my training sessions. Explore how my body reacts during training and racing. Fully give in to the process of competing, while trying not to identify which the outcome/results too much (I'm still not great at this last bit, as I still place a lot of my self-worth in how I perform. I'm slowly getting better though).

What I'm trying to say is that you can carry on doing the hobbies/activities you enjoy, but approach them with a different outlook.


I've experiences space distortion (e.g. the floor underneath me falling away which was very weird and intense) but never hallucination so I can't really help you there. However, if you want to systematically and carefully explore meditation further step-by-step, then I cannot recommend enough The Mind Illuminated by Dr John Yates (which is completely free of religion and jargon which is refreshing). In my opinion, Eckharte Tolle's book is a waste of space and there are better books on being mindful:

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are
  • Mindfulness In Plain English

  • Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World

    The first two books are more about the essence of mindfulness and the third is more of a step-by-step guide to mindfulness written by a brilliant researcher here in Oxford. Russ Harris' books on ACT are fantastic :)

    Edit: One last thing I wanted to say about the negative effects of mindfulness is that my motivation to work towards my PhD also took a hit when I started meditating. Again, a lot of my motivation for my PhD was anxiety and fear or failure, and once I identified with these emotions less and less, the less I worried about working hard. This again is slow progress but I'm trying to switch emphasis in my work from achieve, achieve, achieve, to enjoying and savouring the process. It's difficult though with periods of high-pressure and deadlines!
u/lSl · 3 pointsr/Mindfulness

The best way would be to get in person instruction from a qualified teacher. For mindfulness specifically there are mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) courses all over the world. There might also be some traditional meditation centers in your area. Look them up and try the ones that interest you. They're usually filled with nice helpful people.

You can also try watching meditation Youtube videos or meditation apps like headspace. Reading books can also be useful especially with the right book. There's a few good books on the side bar. Reading mindfulness books for anxiety is how I got started with meditation and they helped me a lot. Based on your last sentence about enjoying moments, I'll suggest this one I read recently called Joy on Demand. It's an easy to read book filled with a bunch of techniques for being more present and cultivating more joy in life.

u/jbristow · 2 pointsr/Mindfulness

I'm not knowledgeable enough to really expound on the differences, but I'll throw down some resources that helped me:

  • Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (JKZ is like the father/grandfather of the Western Psychology Mindfulness based stress reduction movement. Of these two, Wherever You Go is easier to read, but I find JKZ's writing to be a bit dry overall.)
  • Radical Acceptance, by Tara Brach (A good next-step once you have the basics of Mindfulness down.)
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Workbook, this is the book my teacher used in her MBSR (mindfulness based stress-reduction) class. It's nice and easy and comes with a CD of guided meditation.

    If this all piques your interest, I really recommend attending a MBSR class to learn a bunch of different techniques and to discuss it with other people who are doing it at the same time. It's similar to exercise in that you can get started on your own, but if you want to get more "skilled" you should look to find a mentor to help you process and suggest new techniques that might help you improve.
u/mindful_island · 2 pointsr/Mindfulness

Always glad to discuss!

I learn a lot as I try to articulate my understanding and experience. That is one of the reasons I started teaching mindfulness practice.

I've listened to a lot of Alan Watts. I love that he described himself as a "spiritual entertainer" and a "philosophical entertainer". I could listen to him talk for hours. :D

I've also listened to many videos of Tolle, he is a great guy. I haven't read books from either of them.

I've read a little about Huang Po back when I hung out in /r/zen a little. I've since moved on from that place. BTW if you ever go there, maybe you already have, take them all with a grain of salt. I think there is more to learn from the zen texts and meditation than the toxic people in that forum.

'Taking the Path of Zen' by Robert Aiken is really good.

'Mindfulness in Plain English' may be the best intro to mindfulness I've read.

'Focused and Fearless' is a very direct and simple guide to Jhana practice, or absorption concentration meditation. It describes very specifically how to reach and identify every level of Jhana.

'The Posture of Meditation' is a great guide to the role your body plays in meditation. It is the most in depth guide on posture, but it can be an intro to meditation in itself. The author teaches that you can read deep mindful states with only correct posture.

Most of those talk about actual practice, which I think is the most important.

For philosophy and understanding what is going on I highly recommend this course:

It is a serious and lengthy course for which you will need patience to sit through lectures. An evolutionary psychologist from Princeton - Robert Wright evaluates Buddhism through the lens of modern psychology.

That was a defining course for me and gave me a lot of motivation to practice whole heartedly.

u/tinagetyourdinner · 3 pointsr/Mindfulness

This reminds me of one of the insights in The Celestine Prophecy:

>3. Subtle energy. There is an energy, previously undetected by science, that forms the basis of all things. Human perception of that energy starts with an increased awareness of beauty: people, animals, plants, ecosystems that have a high level of that energy appear particularly beautiful. By becoming aware of that energy, we become able to notice when and how we give and receive energy.

u/JLMA · 1 pointr/Mindfulness

thank you again for your replies; very well articulated, very helpful to me

I would like to ask you for your favorite resources on how to enhance mindfulness/awareness.

Mine are E Tolle's The Power Of Now and Stillness Speaks.

I listened to Alan Watts Out Of Your Mind and Do You Do It or Does It Do You?: How to Let the Universe Meditate You, and read his The Way Of Zen. I liked the book very much, did not enjoy much the audios. I went right back to listening to E Tolle audiobooks, mainly his TPON.

Also, I am reading the The Zen Teaching of Huang Po

What about you? What do you definitely think I should listen to or read?

u/DestinedToBeDeleted · 4 pointsr/Mindfulness

Obviously, continually using MDMA to control monkey mind isn't a great long term solution. The ecstacy is heavily affecting your serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, so whether or not you're being mindful while rolling is debatable. Speaking from personal experience (almost two years sober), I wouldn't consider an MDMA experience particularly mindful; you're ultra tuned into sounds, movements, pleasurable sensations, and social interaction, but ultra tuned out of negativity.

If you want to learn to quiet the monkey mind, there's one really good way that you're probably already aware of: meditation. There's many types of meditation, but I'd recommend insight meditation for dealing with that overreactive brain. Mindfulness In Plain English is an easy to read introduction to insight/vipasanna.

u/mikegates90 · 5 pointsr/Mindfulness

Mark Manson is really awesome. I've been a reader of his for a few years and just picked up his audiobook for "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***."

It discusses the counterintuitive ideologies that one must adopt to become more secure with oneself and others in their lives, by letting go of things they shouldn't give a fuck about. Highly recommended you start reading his material.

u/mrdevlar · 5 pointsr/Mindfulness

I highly recommend you get yourself a book with a reasonable roadmap of the meditative process. One which includes some framework for you to begin in.

I recommend The Mind Illuminated.

To answer your specific question, set an intent to do one exercise for the entire 10 minutes and stick to it. Only change the nature of the exercises between meditation sessions. This will keep you focused.

u/DiscoStu44x · 1 pointr/Mindfulness

I'm about half way through this, pretty solid so far. It teaches you mindfulness techniques that is taught at Google.

Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)

u/needz · 1 pointr/Mindfulness

If you enjoyed that book, you should look into more books on Stoicism. I really enjoyed this one and this one

u/Singular_Thought · 3 pointsr/Mindfulness

If you take Buddhism or Hinduism and strip away the religion and philosophy, this is what you are left with. A lot of people call it Nonduality (not two). These practices (Self Inquiry) are what lead to the mystical experience of oneness.

I stumbled onto it by accident and it has changed my life.

I would recommend reading the works of Ramana Maharishi.

Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Compass)

Just so you know, the nondual experience is not magical or supernatural and doesn’t make you special... (I say this because a lot of people get carried away with the whole enlightenment thing and become insufferable assholes who believe they are the new messiah who will save the world.)

What happens is the sense of a separate individual self that sticks out from everything else fades away and disappears. You know how it feels like there is a bubble and in that bubble is “me” and outside that bubble is “everything else”? That bubble of “me” fades away and disappears.

What’s left could be described as the universe is experiencing itself, and the universe absolutely loves itself. There is no longer an “I” present to feel special or insignificant. There is just stillness and simple being. Happiness is natural and inherent... and then you get up in the morning, brush your teeth and go to work and pay your bills... life just goes on in stillness.

u/EmptyTumbleweed · 2 pointsr/Mindfulness

I'm all for meditation. This book is really good. There's even a subreddit for it.
The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness

If you have actual depression and anxiety I'd really recommend seeing your doc and getting a med. It's the only thing that's helped me. Really, there's no shame. It's just like having high blood pressure, it needs to be treated.

u/brutishbloodgod · 3 pointsr/Mindfulness

There's actually a book about it:

I'm a little surprised they didn't mention it in the article.

u/generalT · 1 pointr/Mindfulness

many chapters in that book trace the spread of buddhist texts from india into asia. perhaps you can find something there.

u/usta-could · 3 pointsr/Mindfulness

Full Catastrophe Living is a good one if you haven’t already read it.

u/mazewoods · 1 pointr/Mindfulness

Hey there,

Have you been diagnosed as having experienced trauma? Or are you currently experiencing traumatic stress?

From what I've read so far that may be the case. If that's so then I'd really recommend approaching mindfulness / Buddhism (I assume you learned impermanence there) with resources/teachers that are trauma-informed. Mindfulness can aggravate traumatic stress and in some cases cause retraumatization. You can still benefit from it, but only if you do it through trauma informed resources/teachers. I'd recommend having a look at Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness by David Treleaven: