A Mindful moment or two.
Being aware and having focused attention on the present moment and allowing our feelings to be as they are without judging or pushing to change them. Like so many daily practices they may seem easy at a glance but engaging with ourselves and “doing the work” requires patience, strength and courage. Cultivating an attitude of being fully here and now, is Mindfulness and it is a life time’s work, so we all can take our time.
The beauty, joy and frustration of Mindfulness is that no one can do it for you, it’s a moment to moment commitment that renders it delightfully tangible. Whoever you are and whatever you are doing there is always the opportunity to connect with yourself through your breath. As I write this, it sounds so simple, but as a learner of this practice I can vouch for how difficult, painful and trying this discipline can be. Just try sitting upright for a few minutes twice a day and watch the mental scenario play out in your thoughts from aching itchy limbs to bizarre memories and fantasies. We are programmed to keep busy, achieve, think and mostly to be doing something.
Mindfulness is the “Non-doing, of simply being”. It’s a paradox that by “Doing less we can actually be here and now, potentially achieving more” Whilst I am advocating a regular scheduled time of sitting silently, its healing ability happens when we simply show up for ourselves daily regardless of whether we feel motivated or happy. We may sit the whole ten minutes feeling intense emotions or physical pain, it’s a myth to think that all meditation or relaxation will have you happy in less time than it takes to boil the kettle. Having a daily sitting practice will allow you the space to drop into what you are feeling, which is incredibly rich as a source of becoming aware. But more importantly it’s the deep soothing practice of coming back to your breathing each time your mind drifts off. I love how Mark Williams Professor of Psychology at Oxford says “If you have a mind it will wander” and yes, our minds do wander off the beaten track.
So, whilst it may be quite a buzzword at the moment, this practice is timeless and is essential for everyone’s wellbeing. You don’t have to be into alternative therapies to benefit from being fully present with yourself. As we are now seeing that mindful silent sitting, watching the breath is of benefit to our physical health, emotional health and spiritual wellbeing. It’s fascinating that something so simple can be incredibly difficult and that something so simple can be highly effective and free! We tend to think that price should be a consideration for something to hold its value. But I believe that Mindfulness is a gift that anyone can try, where ever they are and where ever they may be in their life. Each moment we have the power to start over again as we connect to the simple inhalation and exhalation, this is the dynamic flow of life.
Let’s see if we can take the next few moments of sitting in the full presence of ourselves each day, why not even just give it a go for a month and evaluate for yourself what positive impact it has had upon your wellbeing? As Jon Kabit -Zinn founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Clinic established in 1979 said “It’s a love affair with life” I think we all share this, it’s called humanity.
By Maz Lockett.