It’s a busy world. You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that the trees are in bloom along your route to work?
So what exactly is mindfulness? It is the act of consciously focusing your mind on the present moment without judgment and without attachment to the moment. It can help us become more aware of what is going on for us internally and externally. We become more present to the “right now”.
Why be mindful? Mindfulness practices can help us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also help us to focus our attention, as well as to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment. As we become more present in our lives and in relation to others, it can help us to make better decisions, manage our emotions, and to be more fully engaged in life.
How can we be mindful? We can learn how to be mindful at any time, anywhere and while doing most anything?
A Simple Meditation Practice :
- Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.
- Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
- Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.
- Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
- Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
- Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.
- Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
- When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
As you spend time practicing mindfulness, you’ll probably find yourself feeling kinder, calmer, and more patient.
Getting started with a mindfulness meditation practice can sometimes seem intimidating, but it’s important to remember that even a few minutes each day can be beneficial. Even if you don’t do it every day, it’s a practice you can keep coming back to when you need it.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.