19 Jun '17
The Unknown History of Mindful Science and an Exercise from the Old Days, MINDFUL SCIENCE, JUNE 2017Posted in Articles by Eric Shaw
You might be surprised by this story.
It will explain how mindfulness first came to us.
It will also give you a century-old thought-training technique.
Because our mental structure hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years (or probably the last 10,000!), this technique will still rock your world.
Mindfulness practices have been training our brains to create happiness, think clearly and execute mental tasks faster for a very long time.
Though “Hypnosis” is a scary word, it’s really just a way to organize a thought-stream—and such methods were discovered at the dawn of the 19th century.
But you should know that, as far back as Plato’s time (c. 400 BCE), highly effective people used thought-stream training for vocational success, attainment of life-goals and the improvement of their relationships.
Moving forward 1500 years from Plato, we see modern work-lives and modern mindfulness techniques emerging at about the same time.
The roots of today’s mindfulness’ practices are found the 1700s—in the new-born Industrial Revolution.
This event coincides with “The Enlightenment”—a period when many things we now see as normal first emerged, e.g., the authority of science and the faith that all things are reducible to a rational system. The Enlightenment began around 1620 and went hard and heavy for nearly two more centuries.
Franz Mesmer (1734 – 1815) was a child of the Enlightenment.
The word “mesmerized” comes from his discoveries and he devoted his life to training attention.
As “mesmerized” suggests, he brought people toward sharp states of focus.
He’d sit silently, knee-to-knee with clients, putting his attention on them and leading them toward profound states of concentration—in a practice we now call “hypnosis.”
Observing his technique, people called it ”auto-suggestion.”
They said he made people “suggest” things to themselves.
This would healed them of the sicknesses he had been hired to cure!
CAT scans and other technologies not known in Mesmer’s time now reveal how valuable mindfulness’ biological expressions are.
Before we begin practicing mindfulness, we should know that the focusing skills are challenging because they break habits.
But we should also know that mindfulness is simple to understand and easy to begin.
It’s not hard to say a few words inside your head.
Mindfulness works through these “suggestions” to the self.
The technique is broadly used and broadly proven. A recent Pyschology Today blog reviewed the numberless studies that confirm its effectiveness in granting more happiness, health and vocational success.
After Mesmer’s time, auto-suggestion was taught more explicitly by the influential (and ever-cheerful!) Frenchman, Émile Coué (1857 – 1926) late in the 1800s.
A few months back, Coué was quoted by my fellow Mindful Science blogger, Jorge Borges.
Jorge shared Coue’s mantra: “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
Just like the ancient yogis, Coue’ figured out that the silent repetition of a word-phrase can condition the feeling-state of the mind.
As you can see, the words he used were near-childlike.
This makes his mantra simple to experiment with!
Here is an exercise for you.
You can do just parts of it, or do it all!
1) Write, “Every day in every way I am becoming better and better” on several pieces of paper.
2) Tape them in prominent places around your home—and tape one in the space between your wallet folds (that way, you’ll see it by surprise throughout your day).
3) Make a screensaver with the phrase.
4) Before you get up, and when you go to bed each night, sit up straight for meditation (laying down or slouching will retard or prevent the practice’s effectiveness–but sitting on chair, or your bed’s edge, or even sitting yogi-style on your bed’s pillows, is A-OK). Put the words on paper in front of you and repeat them silently for 5-10 minutes—or even 30 minutes.
Just like bodily workouts, the more time you spend, the more effective the practice will be.
5) Say the phrase to yourself as you move throughout the day—or as often as you remember to do so.
Do this for 3 days.
A few moments of this practice will have an immediate impact, but if you do more than one of the actions above, or do any for a longer time, it will powerfully compound the effect.
The first step in most mindfulness practices is to become aware of your mental content.
The second step is often auto-suggestion.
It also travels under the label, “self-affirmations.”
To optimize our mental activity, we want to, 1) Become mindful of mental content, then 2) Make the tone of that content positive.
Coue’s phrase does this well, and you can learn other strategies of this type in the courses offered by Mindful Science.
As you go forward:
—Trust that mindfulness has been proven over the centuries.
—Explore auto-suggestion through the exercise offered here, or get creative, making your own affirmations. (You can also tie them to religious traditions–repeating Jesus’ name, for example–if that is important to you.)
—Subscribe to Mindful Science to unlock all its practices including new approaches to self-affirmation.
Go! Take this easy, straightforward path, and integrate more happiness, clarity and efficiency into your daily life.
READ THE ARTICLE AT MINDFUL SCIENCE.