How to double your life expectancy
How can mindfulness – which takes time to practise – give us more time?
Adapted from Mark Williams’ excellent book and course, Mindfulness: finding peace in a frantic world
Being locked into the busyness of Doing mode [critical thinking, reflecting, planning] erodes a vast chunk of your life by stealing your time. Take a moment to look at your own life:
Does it seem as if you are ‘running on automatic’, without much awareness of what you’re doing?
Do you get so focused on the goal you want to achieve that you lose touch with what you are doing right now to get there?
Do you find yourself preoccupied with the future or the past?
In other words, are you driven by the daily routines that force you to live in your head rather than in your life?
Now extrapolate this to apply to the life you have left to you. If you are thirty years old, then with a life expectancy of around eighty, you have fifty years left. But if you are only truly conscious and aware of every moment for perhaps two out of sixteen hours a day (which is not unreasonable), your life expectancy is only another six years and three months. You’ll probably spend more time in meetings with your boss!
If you could double the number of hours that you are truly alive each day then, in effect, you would be doubling your life expectancy. It would be like living to 130. Now imagine tripling or quadrupling the time you are truly alive.
People spend hundreds of thousands of pounds – literally – to gain an extra few years of life. But you can achieve the same effect by learning to live mindfully – waking up to your life.
Quantity isn’t everything, of course. But if it’s true, as research suggests, that those who practise mindfulness are also less anxious and stressed, as well as more relaxed, fulfilled and energised, then life will not only seem longer as it slows down and you are really here for it, but happier too.
By Adrian Wright