What fires together, wires together.
Back in 1949 Neuropsychologist Donald Webb used the phrase “Neurons that fire together, wire together” to describe how pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition.
That applies to riding a push bike, a motorbike, driving a car etc, etc and it's the same for mindfulness. The more you practice informal mindfulness, noticing when your mind is wandering and gently and kindly bring it back to the present moment you are strengthening those neural pathways.
Sounds easy, right? It isn’t.
Our default way of thinking can be very strong and a hard habit to break. These could be habitual thought patterns of worry, fear, self-doubt or critical thinking.
Combined with this, the mind loves distractions and stories. Distractions are everywhere; there are signs, signs on signs, screens, alerts on screens, you get the idea, all trying to get your attention, often all at once.
The mind also loves a story and it’s easy to get caught in the loop of reruns of past events or trying to predict and direct future scenarios and situations.
It’s not easy to keep the mind in the present moment.
“Through consistency and repetition, you make the greatest gains.” - Anon
Over time, noticing when your mind wanders and bringing it back, again and again, gets easier as you strengthen the neural pathways. Consistency is key and you have to do the work, theres no App for that!
Just like riding a bike, once you learn the art of mindfulness, the skill is always there, you just have to do it.