A dream, a desire, a wish, an urge,
Ripples the chords of my heart in surge…
A prayer emerges on my lips,
As the Sun rises, as the Sun dips…
“Oh Almighty, residing in the core of our spirits,
Enlighten us all with joy, be our catalyst…
Align our thoughts, words and our deeds,
Make us mindful & fulfil our essential needs…!”
Here comes my 3rd post in chronicles of the “Inspire Your Soul” series. :)
This time the guest of our mindfully awesome talk show was Magnus Fridh (one of the Co-founders of The Mindfulness App and a renowned name in Sweden's spirituality realm).
|With Magnus Fridh - The Mindfulness App Talk Show|
[PS: These charismatic live talk shows are organised by Moritz, founder at Wolkify).
Wisdom gained in this session was absolutely mind illuminating! And I am truly ecstatic to share it with you... :)
The wonderful session began with an insightful Q-A conversation between Moritz and Magnus.
Moritz: What do you mean by “mindfulness”?
Magnus: Mindfulness is a primordial concept. If we talk about Buddhist realm, dating back to 2000 years ago, it originated as ‘one-mind doctrine’ which refers to the ‘single realm of experience’.
Mindfulness can be defined as complete awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings and emotions without judging them! It is when one is totally aware of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and is completely non-judgmental about them all; then it is considered that the individual has reached a meditative state called ‘mindfulness’.
It also goes as per ethical base. You are aware to do mindful things because you deliberately wish to increase the positive patterns in mind and decrease the negative ones.
I read about a university professor, Jon Kabat-Zinn (University of Massachusetts) who did a clinical research of bringing mindfulness in the field of medicine. There were patients suffering from Cancer and Psoriasis who were exposed to mindfulness. After some time of practice, it was observed that they could easily deal with their pain, anxiety and stress.
He knew it was a quite tricky to incorporate concepts like ‘mindfulness’ into clinical world but he knew it would bring immense relief to the patients. In clinical world we need evidences but that’s okay, you get evidences only when you first start doing the thing with a sense of trust!
He has been the pioneer to open the doors of the research world for mindfulness. He envisioned making this technique of mindfulness reach out to more people. He had good networking with the Buddhist teachers, and used to invite legends like Dalai Lama to the research projects.
[PS: Today, Jon’s stress reduction program called mindfulness-based stress reduction is being offered in multiple hospitals and medicine centres. Read more about Jon here.]
His definition of mindfulness is simply “being what is”! But he also believes that Mindfulness covers a big palette of all other sorts of meditation techniques such as Yoga, etc.
Moritz: What made you interested in the teachings of Buddha and mindfulness?
Magnus: I grew in small town in south of Sweden. I used to be under stress and anxiety! I encountered problems in sitting still in the classroom. That was when I was 15-16 years. During those days, my mother had decided to sponsor a child from Tibet who had lost his family. The boy came to our home when I was 18. This boy had brought with him a bundle of wisdom on the subject of enlightenment. Sometime later, when he left from our place, he had left few books (written by Dalai Lama)!
That was the beginning point for me to come close to the Tibetan culture and read these books. There was a book called “HOW TO MEDITATE”. At the back of this book, somewhere there was a small note, “If you like it, try it! If not, search something else!”
And I felt really nice reading this note, something stirred me deep within! It was mysterious and obscure but I felt this as an open-minded thing. I read all such Buddhist books, and realized a sense of stillness surrounding me. That was the time when I felt peace of mind! I felt pure stillness…! That opened up a special world and I felt really special! I had been meditating ever since then!
Moritz: It’s wonderful that you got all this from a small inscription behind the book!
Magnus: Exactly Moritz! You never know what transforms your life! It was long time back! I am 46 now and it feels great to have such an insightful experience in early years of life! One must make attempts to start early with good things.
Moritz: What was the effect of stillness on you? What benefits did you experience?
Magnus: I witnessed tremendous impact bringing positive change. The benefits have been:
- Increased focus
- Clear pattern of breath
- Better relationships
- Peace of mind
- Stress really creased out
Moritz: In today’s world, what do you see as the biggest stress? What are the challenges that come in way of experiencing mindfulness?
Magnus: At this point of time in world, sadly we all divided and separated! That’s one of the biggest stressful things that might not be clearly visible but can be deeply felt in our societies!
We indeed are separate individuals but we all belong to one human species. Therefore, there is an immense need to collaborate and cooperate. It is required that we all learn the skill to understand the differences among our perceptions, and accept each other without forming judgements!
It is better to stay away from the social media and gadgets for a defined amount of time each day! These elements just add on to the stress and challenge in experiencing mindfulness.
I wish to involve with my inner dialogue, I’ve made that my priority. Hence that gives me time for myself. And consequently brings clarity and peace of mind!
For instance, when you run for too long, soon you will miss what you are running for! Going too far is not a wise idea; you must pause and realise that moment! You must feel that moment!
Moritz: Do you feel that people around you have changed? Do you notice any change in people’s behaviour - when you were not doing mindfulness, and now that you are into it!
Magnus: I don’t really observe any difference! It’s just that in earlier days, not many people knew what do you mean by stress, but these days, even children know what stress is! After technical revolution, a lot has happened... the world has become smaller! It’s good for some and not so good for others! But actually it is advantageous – it makes us all connected digitally! Technology is not the root of all evil. It’s great if you use it efficiently for value added things.
Moritz: How you counter effect the use of technology - are you more on positive or negative side??
Magnus: I don’t know. I heard a survey saying 50% issues are because of social media. It’s just like when you don’t even want to eat snacks but when they are lying in front of you, you just grab them up, and realise later that they were not actually needed!
Ideally you should be peaceful within. You should forget social media for some time, sit quietly, read a book, or may be do nothing! You’ll feel beautiful.
In a research project at Harvard, 100 people were invited in the age group of 18-79. They were sent to individual rooms and asked to do nothing. It was observed that older people could easily accomplish this goal.
50% people felt it was horrible!!!
Then they added a book to their rooms. People felt much comfortable. Later, they provided a circuit with an electric shock. Strangely, it was observed that 20 men willingly went for that shock just to escape nothingness!
What mindfulness teaches you is to “Just sit through everything and stay calm with nothing – good or bad!”
It’s like learning an instrument - just practice, practice and practice!
You have to get acquainted to the mind. It’s like a water fall – sometimes the water will fall, sometimes it won’t! You must know one thing – whatever thoughts you are thinking – they are not true because they are just thoughts – they are not reality! So why to worry, why to bother just because of thoughts! When you do an action, then that becomes an experience in the reality of your life! Thoughts either belong to the past or the future! They do not belong to the present – and what Buddha teaches us is to live in the present only!
Moritz: I am curious to know why we all are so uncomfortable with our thoughts!
Magnus: Because Thoughts are wandering in a random fashion! Close your eyes and watch the mind, it mostly frightens you with negative thoughts! But if you stay calm and sit quietly, you will observe these haunting thoughts change into pleasant, but again they become horrible! So you see, this is the tendency of mind to produce changing thoughts!
Mindfulness teaches you to just observe the pattern of your thoughts – do not get uncomfortable or excited; just stay calm, sit through your thoughts.
Moritz: Younger people have more problems with staying calm – why?
Magnus: The big revolution must begin at the schools. Kids must be trained in a playful way how to train their minds as well as physical bodies. School systems must execute mindful teachings. There are some simple techniques which must be taught to all the kids from the beginning. There are many such projects in US and UK.
We have initiated the endeavour of implementing “Mindfulness for Schools” as an option in our app. We offer much more than mindfulness - for example, yoga and other relevant techniques to guide the young ones.
Moritz: It’s really difficult to stay mindful at companies! What’s your perspective?
Magnus: There are many companies that practice mindfulness these days. For instance, Google introduced long time back mindfulness courses which is spreading awareness and encouraging other companies to pursue the same. Twitter also has a dedicated room to practice mindfulness among their employees.
Moritz: What are the other ways to practice mindfulness while you are working? Especially in scenarios when you are always working through your computer screen and cannot go anywhere?
Magnus: The world is not a silo! You need to adapt to your surroundings! Just remind yourself to focus on your breath every now and then! You can even listen to our guided meditations over ear phones. Like this you can perform mindfulness anywhere even while working!
This reminds me of the cartoon Bamse, where Skalman has a food-and-sleep watch which reminds him when to eat and sleep; even if he is in the middle of a fight, whenever the watch bell rings, he goes to sleep.
Similarly, we all have to be reminded time and again what to do when! And most importantly remind yourself about the lessons of being mindful.
We all need encouragement to move on in the right direction. These little reminders are our encouraging factors. You can be a bit technical in the beginning - for example, how important it is? How much time will I have to invest? Which technique shall I begin the first – guided meditation, instrumental meditation, meditation in a room, or meditation outside?
But then eventually you just focus on doing it anyhow! You slowly get adapted with it. You just need to find your inspiration.
Moritz: Is there any specific time when you perform your yoga and mindfulness session?
Magnus: I’ve been doing my Ashtaang yoga early morning before my family wakes up. It takes 1.5 hours. The early morning hours are so peaceful. You get so much support from the natural silence. It feels so special. But sometimes when it is not possible, I do it in evenings.
Anytime should be good as far as you are comfortable doing it. Your system should get adapted to whatever technique you practice.
Moritz: Are there any benefits to the employees of companies like Google or Twitter with their mindfulness programs?
Magnus: I am not sure about companies’ perspective! But yes, mindfulness indeed leads to long term positive results. Individuals become more energetic and responsive.
We asked 1000 users of our app - 89% of the people who used the app felt significantly less stressed after using it for 3 times regularly for 3 months.
People who used our app for 6 months resulted being more focussed with better habits.
Those who constantly used our app for 1 year clearly had greater life quality.
Moritz: With your own company, do you have a mission statement?
Magnus: We aim to provide “The mindfulness” app accessibility to all at a low cost at any place you live. Initially there is a free trial version, later as you see more benefits you can pay for more advanced features. This makes the app more democratic.
We wish to focus the clinical world, the schools as well as other domains too.
Moritz: Regarding gadgets, do you try to make a conscious and continuous state of mind when to use them?
Magnus: Yes, I do try to do it more continuously, for instance, I never carry my mobile to my bedroom. You have to be respectful towards yourself! Do not get more open to a world that makes you anxious! It’s a personal choice what you use and how your use it! Mindfulness teaches you to be present and stay calm! I’ll again repeat it’s all about creating positive patterns and habits!
And then the audience got a chance to interact with Magnus... :)
Q: In how much time can one expect the result out of mindfulness?
Magnus: It is very hard to say! This completely depends upon the intensity and dedication of the individual. I’ll say begin with shorter meditations. Follow the technique slowly and gently. These are never ending practices. Motivation is very important to come back to it.
During hard times, when you lose focus and all the momentum stops, just trust your process, trust yourself and soon you will come back to your point of focus!
Create your own world with positive thoughts – Enter the gym of your mind – “I am good... I am breathing... yes, it’s going right, I trust myself!” When you constantly practice trusting your own self then you learn how to calm the jumping monkey mind!
Q: Do you ever use sound during meditation?
Magnus: Yes, sound can be used. You can listen to beautiful, soothing music! But what is important is the inner dialogue. After sometime of listening music, you’ll realize that Focus simultaneously turns inwards and then you hear only the inner voice and have the inner dialogue.
Q: You mentioned in the beginning that mindfulness changed your relationship! How?
Magnus: Yes, mindfulness changed my relationship with Myself! I started understanding my own mind. And once you understand your own mind, only then can you understand other people’s mind!
Q: You said mindfulness is dangerous for depressed or burned out people! How?
Magnus: It’s hard when you experience it for yourself. When you do self introspection, when you go into your own depths of darkness, it’s really scary at times! Hence, it is recommended to have an instructor who can guide the person in a step-by-step way. What first needs to be done is to calm down the person and make them relax. Then the mind needs to be trained. And at the last the techniques and analytics of the meditation can be explained.
So for such special cases, it may take a little longer to make the individual get into the practice mode of meditation, but slowly you get to your goal.
Q: Is there a clinical visibility study in Sweden that uses mindfulness?
Magnus: Karolinska Institute is performing a survey upon patients who practice mindfulness. They track their heart rate and brain patterns.
Q: I installed 5 mindfulness apps, initially I felt ignited but soon I was drained out! And then I found a genius app which made me super addicted! My question is, “Are we heading to a society where our gadgets are more mindful than us? Are we fooling ourselves? Are we distancing ourselves from the real world with inventions like Augmented Reality?”
Magnus: Apps are there only to support you in the beginning, to let you walk in the right direction and achieve your goals. They are tools that remind you to do your determined actions at your determined time. They can never replace the warmth and wisdom of a human teacher.
In the digital world, apps are the new trend. But they are useful only when you use them wisely considering that they are only an aid supporting you in your mission.
Q. by Me: In your experience, what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
Magnus: “Meditation” is the tool or technique to reach the state of “Mindfulness”. Meditation is the journey while Mindfulness is the destination...! We all are looking for that same pleasant silence within, and it is possible to experience it through mindfulness!
[PS: I was extremely happy & content with Magnus' answer :) because somewhere in my heart I already knew it but just asked to gain further clarity!]
So, find your path towards mindfulness today! And feel free to connect with Magnus Fridh for private yoga & mindfulness sessions. :)
[PS: I would rate The Mindfulness App as 4.5 on 5. Being a seasoned meditation practitioner from 18 years, I would say this app is like an anchor that brings you to the world of light, love, silence, bliss, joy and peace!]
Dear readers, I would love to know your perception about mindfulness; also if you have come across any spiritual awakening experience, please share in the comments below. :)
Dear readers, I would love to know your perception about mindfulness; also if you have come across any spiritual awakening experience, please share in the comments below. :)
* Author of this post reserves rights for the compiled content being an original concept. Be mindful to give credit for using this blog post or photographs elsewhere! Please do not copy without permission. ©Jyotika Rajput Mehra
* The author reserves all rights for the images depicted in the blog post.
* This post is purely based on the author’s knowledge gained at the talk show "Being Mindful with The Mindfulness App" by Magnus Fridh held at Wolkify in around December 2017 in Stockholm. The content may contain some added information as interpreted by the author. The purpose of this post is to inspire and motivate the readers, share the mindful wisdom gained during the insightful conversation; and let everybody know about wolkify.com, The Mindfulness App and Magnus Fridh. :)