Mindfulness. Its a word used often, but it can seem elusive.
Today I wanted to shed a little light on the art of being present, awake and conscious.
The practice of Mindfulness (with a capital M!) has been shown to strengthen the immune system, improve sleep, enhance compassion, alter the brain for the better, increase intelligence, enhance your sensory experience of art and life and improves moods while reducing stress.
Pretty compelling reasons to get more present, no?!
Mindfulness is a practice.
The first thing to realize is that Mindfulness is not something you do a few times and then it is done. It is something that you can work on daily, and find greater satisfaction from life as you live more rooted in the present.
Mindfulness is not “airy-fairy” or “New Age.”
Despite public perception, Mindfulness is actually about being able to non-judgmentally confront all of life. Alina Tugen, author of the New York Times article, In Mindfulness, A Method To Sharpen Focus and Open Minds, began the article, and her exploration of the mindfulness movement as a bit of a skeptic. She presents a balanced and realistic view of being mindful and all of its implications. In the end, she is on Team Mindfulness. She writes about the reality of what Mindfulness is, rather than how it is often portrayed:
“The way it’s presented in the media, people begin to believe it’s a magic pill,” said Christy Matta, author of the book “The Stress Response” (2012, New Harbinger Publications). “I’ll clear my mind and I’ll be peaceful and stress-free. If that’s what people think, they’ll be disappointed.”
Rather, she said, “it takes time and sustained practice to experience the benefits.”
And, she said, if you go into it with the idea of reducing stress, you’re working against the very thing you’re trying to attain, because you’re aiming toward a goal.
Mindfulness, “is about being present,” she said. “You have to do it just to do it. You can’t strive for things.”
While being aware of your feelings may be nice when drinking a lovely cup of tea or relaxing in a garden, Ms. Matta said, part of mindfulness is also uncomfortable feelings — not trying to change or judge them, but being aware of them. And that may not feel so pleasant.” (whole article HERE)
Where to begin in this practice of Mindfulness?
I find my simplest Mindfulness in quiet nature, just sitting for a while. That isn’t always possible or sustainable, and guides are a very good thing. Dr. John Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness master if ever there is one, has inexpensive CD/MP3’s on Mindfulness. And if you want to really get into it and experience much more of meditation, this streaming video course from Charlie Knoles will give you everything you need.
Your environment can support your Mindfulness practice.
I’ve written a bunch about feng shui to become more grounded and present. Living in present time (rather than having thoughts stuck in the past or fixated on the future) is something that feng shui is rather good at engineering. After all, it is your physical environment that you will be experiencing in the present moment, so the more sensory rich and wonderful it is, the more you will want to be there.
Mindfulness is fun.
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ~ Alan Watts
Being present implies connecting to life…and to the people in it. Mindfulness is not a me-only technique. In fact, the practice of Mindfulness has been shown to increase empathy and compassion!
Enjoy the now. Fully. xoxo Dana