Researchers are finding out that mindfulness has been shown to increase happiness. Originally a Buddhist term, the word mindfulness is now becoming as ubiquitous as the word Zen. But what exactly is it? Going to the gym and running on the running machine while watching TV is not being mindful. Going through a Qigong or Kung Fu form while concentrating on the breath and the movement is. I’m not judging the person on the running machine. It’s okay to be mindless every now and again, but if our goal is to be happy then factoring in more sessions of mindfulness and less sessions of mindlessness will help us to achieve this.
A student came to me the other day and said that she’d been meditating for 20 minutes every morning but she didn’t feel any different. For true transformation to occur, we need to integrate mindfulness into our day to day life. The Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, advises us to use a ringing phone or a red traffic light as a tool to remind us to come back to ourselves and breath three times. What are we doing with our time now? Are we happy? If not, why not? Willpower is like the groceries we buy at the supermarket, it runs out. This is why we need to integrate our practice into our daily life so it’s no longer about willpower, it is a habit to us and this habit then becomes a way of life.
For true transformation to occur we need to get out of our heads. What I mean by this is we need to give our mind a break and ground ourselves in our body. Since coming to the UK, I have seen many people on a Friday night going to a pub and drinking lots of beer and wine. My students have told me that they are getting out of their heads. In China we don’t have this culture, so at first I couldn’t understand why people stand up all evening in a crowded room and drink a lot and don’t eat anything. But now I understand. These people feel stress and this is the only way they know to get away from their stress. But their way is mindless rather than mindful and it will only give them temporary relief and a headache in the morning. A Qigong or Kung Fu Workout is a mindful and positive way to deal with stress.
Our body is a miniature universe and our Qi is the inexhaustible energy of the universe which underpins our existence. It’s always there for us, just as a waterfall is always flowing regardless of whether we are there to look at it or not. Going through a Qigong or Kung Fu form helps us to be mindful. It shifts our energy and focus from our small mind with its endless circle of thoughts, plans and worries to our universal mind. It stimulate brain chemicals in our mind that are linked to happiness. If our mind and body are in harmony then peace naturally occurs without us having to work at it. Tapping into the universal mind gives us a happiness that no one can take away from us. Happiness is our most natural state of being. We deserve it.