How to Stop the Churning Mind – The Practice of Mindfulness

If we look honestly at most of our lives, it is easy to see how truly difficult it is to stop ingrained behaviors and responses. It is so natural to be at the mercy of automatic, repetitive, responses. Most of our lives are lived racing from one activity to another, one relationship to the next. We seldom see the person or situation we are facing. Instead we are run by old patterns, repetitive thoughts, persistent desires, fierce appetites and exhausting obsessions.

One-pointed mindfulness, which brings us into the present moment, is a powerful medicine for this disorder. As we stop, we become aware that past activities are over, that we are in a completely new moment in time. It is rare to find a way to stop, settle down and see what it is we truly have now and what we are really needing. The practice of stopping is another name for the practice of mindfulness, a wonderful way to eliminate stress and become fully present and awake to where we are and what is happening right now. Paying attention wakes you up from the fog, fantasies, slumber you usually live in. In mindfulness practice, you place your precious attention fully on the present moment, whatever it may be right now. You pull your attention away from hopes and longing, plans, memories and persistent dreams.

In order to do this it is necessary to stop trying to change, fight with, control, judge or use the world you live in. Instead, you greet whatever comes, with attention, acknowledging it as it is right now. You simply become present to the world before you, to the incredible gift and wonder before your eyes. But what is this mindfulness exactly, what does it take to really pay attention to a person, a tree, a step we take? What gets in the way? Our attention is our life force. That which we attend to increases, our attention feeds it energy. That which we withdraw our attention from inevitably fades.

Attention is equated with love. When someone pays real attention, we feel as though we are loved. When attention is withdrawn, we may feel insignificant or rejected. It's easy to develop an addiction to receiving attention from others in order to sustain our sense of self. In mindfulness practice we turn this around. Rather than seeking attention, we give it, not only to the world around, but to ourselves. The practice of mindfulness, or of attending, can therefore also be called the practice of giving and receiving love.

The Practice of Mindfulness
In mindfulness practice when you cook, you pay total attention to each vegetable you chop for the soup. When you sweep, your full attention goes to the broom, the floor and the sweeping. You place your attention to where you are standing, what you are doing, feeling, thinking, and also completely upon whoever may appear in front of your eyes. When you love, you love completely. You pay attention in a unique manner, you do not ask for things to behave in a way that suits you, or to fulfill some fantasy you may have. There are no hidden expectations or demands. You just fully attend to, and thus value, whatever appears. When you are able to do this, you will not perceive a problem with anything. And, as that happens, everything will fall into perfect place. This kind of attention is like sunshine that warms whatever it may touch.

Find out more about peace of mind in award winning book, Jewish Dharma, (A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen), at by top psychologist and speaker Dr Brenda Shoshanna.