One of the most important things we can do in our life to help us be is to practice mindfulness. Our lives are naturally forced to be involved in doing, and we are designed to simply be. We go to work, we have relationships, we spend our money, we wish things were different, and we wonder what is missing. What is missing is our awareness of what is going on in our life and the world. Many of us are looking for something to make us fulfilled, to make us feel worthwhile, to make us feel special. I hear many times from clients that their work, their relationships or their life needs to change and they are looking for what to change into. If their circumstances are abusive or dangerous, I certainly encourage them to make decisions that will make their life safe. However, if the problem is that they are dissatisfied with what they have created in their life, I encourage them to try something else before they quit their job, spouse, or circumstances. I encourage them to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the ability to be completely present in any moment. It is much easier to be mindful and completely present while things are quiet and relaxed. It is difficult to be completely mindful when your supervisor wants something done or your children are misbehaving. Life is simply a journey and we do not have to be perfect. All we have to do is practice. Being mindful can be as simple as bringing one hundred percent of your focus on to one thing right in front of you for a few minutes. When you have a quiet moment, look at one thing that is right in front of you and look at it, really look at it. I am looking at a vase of tulips my best friend gave to me. I am looking at the colors… yellows, pinks, green, peach, red and lime jump at me and this is just one of the tulips. The smell is perfume and earth. The textures are soft, crinkled, smooth and striped. The feelings that I experience while looking at them are love, amazement, gratitude, wonder and curiosity. There are so many different things to notice in just one flower that I had not noticed before. The amazing thing is that all of the petty thoughts that I was thinking about before I focused on that flower have gone out of my mind.
Mindfulness is also the ability to focus on whatever emotions we are experiencing in the moment. Are we sad, angry, afraid, worried, joyful, happy or peaceful? Really focus on the feeling/emotion and scan your body at the same time. Where in your body is the emotion? What shape is the emotion? What color is the emotion? What does the emotion feel like? By the time you have analyzed all of the characteristics of the emotion, it will have moved on. That is the nature of emotions, Energy in Motion…If you are experiencing an emotion that is unpleasant, you can let it go by being mindful about it.
Mindfulness is also the ability to experience your body fully. Practice walking ten steps in one direction and returning. Focus on how it feels to walk, how your muscles contract, how it feels to life a foot off of the ground, feeling blood flow through your body, breath coming in and out of your body. Walking is such a complex action that we often don’t appreciate how miraculous our bodies are. When we are filled with wonder and awe about how incredible we are, negative emotions leave and we can start to appreciate just how special we are.
Mindfulness is also focusing on our breath. If we could simply take 5 minutes when we first wake up in the morning to focus on our breathing, we can start our days with the realization that we are alive and everything else is easy after that. After we focus on our breathing for 5 minutes, we can also select a thought for the day, something uplifting and inspiring. Have a list of such thoughts handy beside your bed, and just choose one to start your day. The first thought we have in our heads when we start our day usually sets the tone for our day. If we choose a positive, enlightening thought, our day will start that way. If we don’t choose our thoughts, our thoughts will choose what kind of day we will have and that often won’t be as positive as a conscious thought would be.
The way we practice how to be will determine what we do. If we are completely mindful, it doesn’t matter what we do, for we will be doing it consciously and with awareness. Many times the perceived problems with the job, relationship or circumstances simply disappear. Practice, practice, practice.