One of the best ways of boosting your capacity to be mindful is to practise mindfulness meditation everyday. Establishing a daily habit of meditation isn’t easy, but well worth the effort. With a clear and strong motivation to practise, you can develop the firm commitment necessary to engage in meditation regularly. Once the habit of daily meditation is created, the routine becomes as natural as having a shower – you now have a way of cleaning your mind everyday, not just your body.
Clarifying intention in mindfulness
Dr Shauna Shapiro of Santa Clara University, together with several colleagues, came up with a helpful model to suggest how mindfulness works. They identify three key components: intention, attention and attitude. The components are required together and feed into each other when you engage in mindfulness. The components link in well with the often-used definition of mindfulness, which is: paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally. Breaking this down, you have:
✓ Paying attention – attention
✓ On purpose – intention
✓ In a particular way – attitude
These three components work together seamlessly to create the moment-tomoment experience that is mindfulness.
Figure : The three components of mindfulness.
Intention is often a component that gets lost when people consider mindfulness, and yet it’s vitally important. Intention sets the scene for what unfolds in the practice itself.
One study has shown that people’s intention in mindfulness is usually stress reduction and moves on to greater understanding of your thoughts and emotions, and finally towards greater compassion. For example, you may begin practising meditation to reduce your anxiety, and when that subsides, you practise to attain greater control over your emotions and eventually to be a more compassionate and kind person to your family and friends. What’s your intention?
Discovering your intention
Take a piece of paper, or your journal, and write as many answers as you can to the following questions in one minute, without thinking about it too much:
- I want to practise mindfulness because . . .
- I am hoping mindfulness will give me . . .
- If I am more mindful I will . . .
- The real reasons I want to practise mindfulness are to . . .
- Ultimately mindfulness will give me . . .
- Mindfulness is . . .
These sentence completion exercises may help to clarify your motivation and intentions of mindfulness. Now read and reflect on your answers. Did any of your answers surprise you? Why did they? You may like to come back to these answers when you’re struggling to motivate yourself to meditate – reading your answers can then be a way of empowering yourself to practise some meditation.