I have discovered that “mindfulness” is the new buzzword these days, like it is something recently discovered by enlightened beings. Quite to the contrary, mindfulness is a concept that has been around for thousands of years, like everything else that is being repackaged and rebranded by new age spiritual metaphysicians. Mindfulness is simply paying attention, to everything without drama, projection, judgment or memory. It is simply being aware of the mechanics of walking while you are contemplating the feel of the air on your face, the words of a companion, or where you are on your journey.
Where we have lost the art of mindfulness is being distracted. We get distracted by desires, needs, trauma, drama, people pleasing, achieving, visualizing, attracting, lovers, children, jobs, stepping in poo and on and on. We are distracted by anxiety, stress, not getting what we want, physical appearance, the status of our love life, lack of respect, who is running for president, global tragedy, taxes, death and the status of our underwear. In other words, life conspires to distract us from being mindful. Interestingly enough, mindfulness requires discipline while at the same time being relaxed. Mindfulness can be confused with apathy, aloofness, arrogance, or total indifference. This is because most people are threatened by those who are practicing mindfulness because they are not hooked into drama, trauma or chaos.
This does not mean that people practicing mindfulness are not compassionate. In fact, mindful people are probably the most compassionate people I know. They actually care deeply about the welfare of those that they experience, however, they are willing to let those people have their own journey. Compassionate people do not see people as broken or needing to be fixed. Mindful people do not offer to heal anyone. They know that everyone is on their own journey of discovery and would not presume to change anyone’s path. If asked, they will offer whatever they can, but without attachment to results or outcome.
I can’t tell you how many times I am in a group of “spiritual” people and someone starts playing their victim role. It amazes me how many people start waving their hands around in some kind of healing modality or start handing out their business cards. They have been hooked into the victim’s game. All I can do is smile and say “well done!”
I am reminded of the saying “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and prove it.” That saying is a good mantra for those practicing mindfulness. It is difficult to be detached and watching when you are talking unless you are well advanced on the conscious path. It takes a great deal of mental clarity and focus to do all of those things at the same time.
The most important aspect of mindfulness is the ability to stay present. This means not thinking about the past or the future. Even more important is not to project the past into the future. When you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, it doesn’t take a big imagination to know what your doing to the present. When we regret the past, we can’t enjoy the present. When we fear the future, we can’t enjoy the present. When we can’t enjoy the present, we can’t be mindful. And during this holiday season, we definitely want to enjoy the present.
Being mindful is not easy. If I am daydreaming, I am not being mindful. If I am wishing something in my life was different, I am not being mindful. If I am resenting something or someone, I am not being mindful. Being mindful is oftentimes more about what I am not doing as what I am doing.
Realize that being mindful is more of a goal than an achievement. I doubt anyone that is human is 100% mindful all of the time. We just have to do the best that we can and enjoy the rest. So happy holidays all of my mindful friends and enjoy the present that this will bring.