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Training the Mind to be Nimble

Writer: Erin Lee


Mindfulness is training the mind to be nimble

You might already know that mindfulness isn't so much about speed. If anything, we usually slow down when we practice being mindful.


It is only with slowing down and paying keen attention to our experience that we are able to notice and unlearn habitual behaviours and thought patterns that no longer serve us.


But mindfulness is very much about being nimble with our attention.


A nimble mind is quick and agile; its attention is flexible and light in motion, like a pianist's fingers effortlessly dancing over the black and white keys of her instrument.

There is also a quality of relaxed alertness - always observing, readily capturing all that is happening in its awareness, and knowing with confidence when to engage and when to sit back and rest.


When the mind is not nimble, it is dull; it operates on autopilot and has the tendency to get stuck or react to experiences out of habit and impulse.


So how would we know if our mind is nimble enough? Here are a few check-in questions we can reflect on:


  • How quickly do you notice that your mind has wandered off?

  • How quickly do you catch yourself dwelling in memories of the past or imaginations about the future?

  • How quickly are you able to bring your attention back to the present experience, and how easy is it for you to rest in the here and now, without being pulled away by thoughts again?

  • How quickly are you able to recover from an emotional episode and return to a state of calm and balance?

  • How quickly do you discover you're trapped in a narrowed perspective or repeating yet another cycle of unhealthy behaviours?

  • How quickly do you realize you have options other than the way you're choosing to respond right now?


The more swiftly we notice changes in our experience, the greater the capacity we have in regulating our internal landscape.


When we operate from a nimble state of mind, we become more resilient to the vicissitudes of life; we are less likely to walk down old paths of habit, and more likely to choose a healthier, wiser response to the situation we're in.


May we all be nimble.


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