In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell (who also wrote The Tipping Point) makes a convincing case for the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to achieving real mastery expertise in any skill, is about practising the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. For the nerds amongst you, that’s 6 years working 7 hours each working day.
So how long does it take to ‘get’ mindfulness?
Well, then answer is anything between about 10 seconds and 20 years. Why the disparity?
It can be 10 seconds, because that’s about how long it takes to take three mindful breaths. If you can do that perfectly (I’ll explain below), you may ‘get it’ right away.
If on the other hand, if, like most of us, you need to work at it, doing say 1 hour of mindfulness practice each day and say two weeks on retreat, that adds up to 20 years. To get personal, it took me 15 years to fully understand nature of mind – at 10.15 am on July 1st 2013. I remember the moment precisely. It was a pivotal moment in my life and nothing will ever be the same. Because of that moment, my life is now dedicated to helping others, like you, to ‘get it’, but more quickly!
So, I’m guessing that you’re looking for the shortcut! Ok, here are the conditions that must be met in your three mindful breaths:
- Attention – staying focused on the physical sensations on the breath
- Tranquillity – feeling settled, relaxed and grounded with no niggling
- Curiosity – being interested, without self-referencing
- Patience – opening a gap in time/space with no past or future referencing
- Not wanting – not wanting anything to change, just allowing the present to roll out
- Compassion – doing this for you and for others
Ok so off you go! It’s simple. Just being present.
Ah, so you just tried it and it did not work? Maybe your mind went AWOL? Maybe a few more hours are needed. Maybe you need some guidance.
That’s why I created Simply Being Present, my new training model for busy people. It’s based on short exercises, practised often. The most important are these 10 second exercises to ‘tune-in’. If you can do one an hour, for two months, that’s 1000 mindful moments.
Just doing this will make a huge change to the way you handle stress, and will help you get your life back.