It sounds so simple and easy, to be mindful, to focus completely on the here and now. On the task at hand and all the sensations that you experience in your body, all the emotions that you are feeling in that instant. Just that instant. And then the next. And then the next…
I mean, surely this is a natural state of being. In fact, it is a natural state of being. It is the default position that our bodies, minds and souls want to get back to. It is a moment or more where every bit of you can just relax and be. With no judgement, no second-guessing, no ‘what if’s’. It is fully just present and paying deep attention to what is happening in that one particular fraction of time.
Moments of mindfulness offer us a space to just breathe. Away from the race of life, away from thoughts speeding through our minds at light-year speed. While this is a moment of rest, it is not a moment of inaction (although it could also be that). Studies on mindfulness have shown that being focussed and present makes you more efficient – multi tasking actually gets less done.
Being mindful means you pay full attention. You take in everything that is present in that moment. You really notice the details that sometimes get lost in the madness of a moment. Like the colour of the eyes of the person that you are talking to. Or the feeling of the wind on the back of your neck. It not only helps you to do things more thoroughly, it also creates a space where you get to soak up the essence of life. Moment by moment.
Being mindful and staying present is something that needs to be practiced. It is something that you need to remind yourself to come back to again and again. A good way to start practicing mindfulness is to invite small moments into your everyday life. Become fully present whenever you remember. Here are some tips to help you do that:
Pay attention to your breathing.
Your breathing tells you a lot about what is going on around you and within you. Long, deep breaths tell you that you are comfortable and relaxed. Short, quick, shallow breaths usually mean that there is something you need to pay closer attention. In these moments ask yourself what is going on, check in with your thoughts, feelings and emotions to identify exactly what is happening inside. Once you have identified this, then you can look at your surroundings and the situation to see what could have triggered this response. You might find that there is some healing work that needs to be done, or you might find that you are just really unfit and out of breath from climbing that hill! Either way, congratulations, you just spend a few moments being fully present.
Make a habit of bringing mindfulness to everyday tasks.
Start to develop the habit of being mindful during specific everyday tasks like taking a shower or doing the dishes. Pay attention to each and every spoon, knife, fork and plate. Notice the tiny scratches or dents. See the bubbles that the soap makes and notice the texture of the sponge in your hand. Fully immerse yourself in washing the dishes. As this becomes a habit you will naturally start to become present and notice more and more moments of being mindful during your day. The wonderful thing about practicing mindfulness is that the more you do it, the more spontaneously you will slip into those moments of peace.
Yoga is a great tool to help you achieve mindfulness. Yoga means ‘yoke’ and aims at binding or connecting your mind, body and soul. Through practicing yoga, you aim to get all three of these elements in synchronisation. During practice you focus on your body and breath, lose your focus and your poses become less stable and you tend to be unable to go as deep as you might when you are focusing and breathing. By focusing completely, you are giving your mind the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be fully present, to focus on only the asana that you are in, with no distractions from outside, or from your own scattered thoughts. Yoga is the ultimate tool that leads you to be able to experience deep meditation and mindfulness.
A powerful way to crate mindfulness is through meditation. It helps you to cultivate that deep stillness where your mind and soul can rest. Meditation aims at quieting your mind and creating a space where you can just be. As you are, in that moment.
Like all forms of mindfulness, meditation is a continual practice and some days the quiet will come easier than others… and that is ok. As time goes by you will experience more moments of quiet and those moments will get deeper and deeper until you get to the space where you enter a semi-dreamlike state. Where time does not exist, and you feel like you are floating in a universal soup of energy. That…that beautiful moment is what meditation is about, or at least for me. I have created a few guided meditations here, they are great for beginners and more experienced meditators.
The ultimate goal of practicing mindfulness is to become fully present in each moment. It is to create a space where your mind is quiet and focused, and you are free to absorb everything that the moment brings you. Every moment of ecstasy and every moment of sorrow. Every ordinary moment… until you realise that there are no ordinary moments, only extraordinary moments waiting to be witnessed.