Close your eyes for a moment. Take a few slow breaths to help you center and relax and then open your eyes again. Upon opening your eyes,scan the room and notice the colors, textures, shapes, and sounds. Don’t label anything just simply notice. When you’re done extend your index finger and touch the tip of your nose…
…Five, six, seven minutes later…This is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being fully engaged in what we’re doing while we’re doing it. It’s the constant focusing and refocusing, moment to moment on the object of our attention. If we’re washing dishes, we’re focused entirely on washing dishes. We feel the temperature of the water, the texture of the dishes, and the smell of the soap. We experience the experience through the senses.
The biggest obstacle to practicing mindfulness is our thoughts. We’re usually sorting through our past, planning the future, and deciding how they affect our present experience. It’s not the quieting or silencing of the mind that helps us fully engage. It is the act of focusing, this one pointed concentration that stills the mind. Think of drishti (your gaze point) in your asana practice. When we are fully absorbed in the task at hand there’s no space for judgment or other mental distractions. We feel more restored, relaxed in both body and mind.
Our culture and society unfortunately encourages multi tasking which leads us to do too much at once without focusing fully on each part of the experience. This is why we often end up on auto pilot. This lack of awareness also prevents us from listening to our bodies when they need exercise, rest, nutrition, etc. To live mindfully we have to experience life with a “beginner’s mind.” Listen to someone like it’s the first time you’ve met. Listen with trust, patience, an open mind, and acceptance. You’ll notice this mindful listening actually strengthens our ability to communicate. Relationships and life become less superficial and more compassionate, more meaningful.
Mindfulness is an ongoing practice and process. It’s not something we do once and it stays, it requires steady, conscious effort. We savor our brief moments and then let them grow into longer periods of time. Eventually flowing into every aspect of our life.