Mind Traps

Fish Hook Cartoon
Fish Hook Cartoon


Before you begin the journey of mindfulness you need to know that the mind is it's own entity.  The mind can not be easily controlled.  THE MIND WILL WANDER. That is it's nature.

Is this a big deal? Simply, No.

A lot of my athletes who I work with really struggle with this idea.  They believe that they may not "be good" at mindfulness because their minds do not stay with the focal point that has been given.  The athletes tell me that they are constantly having to 'refocus'.  It feels as though their minds are jumping all over the place.  Or even worse, that they missed the whole mindfulness session because their mind went elsewhere and they didn't realize it.  I want to share with you, that this is completely normal and the whole point to mindfulness training.  You must learn how to deal with the MIND TRAPS.  It is important to create awareness that your mind has wandered and then have the ability to bring it back to the place of focus.  That is the essence of 'mindfulness'.

The mind traps are the "hooks" (see Don't Bite the Hook by the wonderful American Buddhist Pema Chödrön) that take the mind from being completely in the present.  Here is a summary of the HOOKsas explained by my Mindfulness teacher Barbara Downie.

1. Our mind travels to a PLEASING SENSE.  Going to the music, clothes, tastes, smells, and textures that is LIKED. Also, going to the THOUGHTS of MY CHOOSING.

2. Feelings of resentment, anger, jealousy, hatred, and greed.

3. Restless & Worry.   (This is my big one!!! My mind gets 'bored and restless' with just sitting in the present. It constantly wants to PLAN so that I don't have to worry about what I am missing my using my time to just sit-- Can you relate to this???)

4. Indifference and carelessness of attitude.

5. Doubt.  (It really doesn't matter what the object - self, coach, teammates, mindfulness activity, ect.)

These are the common places that take your mind away from the focus point during a mindfulness activity.  What to do when you realize that your mind has been 'hooked'?  Jon Kabat-Zinn says that you consciously bring the mind back to the focus in a way that is gentle and accepting. Continue to do this no matter how persistent the mind is to wander.

It is my hope that now that you know that it is natural for the mind to be hooked, that you will persist with mindfulness.  I've learned to accept that there are days when my mind is so much more susceptible to being hooked compared to others. As the saying goes, "it is what it is".  On those days, my intention is to catch my mind wandering and gently bring it back to the focus.  It is on those days that I benefit most from my mindfulness training. It is on those days that I am offered the opportunity to learn to be still and present amidst the chaos of the day.

I found this video on you tube of Jon Kabat-Zinn.  He is a world leading teacher of mindfulness. In this video he speaks about mindfulness to a group of Google employees.  I hope that you enjoy!