Sunday, January 23, 2011

Moment-to-Moment: A Practice

This week we will turn our attention toward the idea of mindfulness, and work toward bringing this practice outside of our meditation.

What is mindfulness?

Webster's dictionary defines mindfulness as "bearing in mind: Aware."  Yes, this is true, but the idea of mindfulness is not just being aware.  It is being completely absorbed in what you are doing and that of nothing else.

How often do you find yourself cleaning dishes, driving, eating, and you are thinking of what's on your to do list, what you are going to this weekend, thinking of everything except what you are doing?

If you're like most people, myself included, chances are you do this all the time.  This is not mindful.  When you clean think only of cleaning, when you eat think only of eating.  This is not just mindful this is being present.  Many say live in the moment, enjoy!

Most do not live by this, and if they do it is only in times of excitement and joy.

Why practice mindfulness?

One reason to practice mindfulness is our mind tends to drift toward things that are not pleasant.  Worries of money, worries of work, and school letting the mind rest here is not restful at all, it is full of anxiety and fear.

We waste a lot of mental energy on worrying, mostly when there is nothing you can do about it at that moment.

For a clear example, say you made a mistake at work earlier in the day and you are currently doing laundry.

To think I should have done this or I should have done that is in vain.  You can't fix the mistake you are now at home folding clothes.  Doing this is very mentally exhausting.

Practicing mindfulness can preserve your energy and even add to mental clarity, so instead, leave your previous task at work, and focus on what is physically in your hand.  When you can return to your mistake the next business day you can work on solving the problem with clarity and a fresh outlook on the present situation.

Another benefit to mindfulness is to find happiness in the smallest or even unpleasant things.  I will not explain this, but share a quote that sums it up perfectly.

If you set about doing something, put your heart into it and enjoy it, that way, regardless of the outcome, it will be a positive experience.

Meditating on mindfulness:

This is a very simple meditation, but one of the most difficult to master.  This week work towards thinking of nothing in meditation. Nothing!

Sounds crazy I know.

To start take deep breaths.  Then for the rest of the meditation we are going to visualize the inhales entering through the nose and then visualizing the exhalations.  That's it!

Sounds easy, but you may catch yourself thinking of your great aunt, pumpkin pie, or any distraction that the mind can latch onto.  When that happens mentally nod to the thought, acknowledging it's presence, and then turn the your thoughts back to the breathing.

We want to "acknowledge" the thought because the more you ignore it the more intense and frequent it becomes.  Like a screaming baby the more you ignore it the louder the child will scream.

Work on this technique not only in meditation, but in your car, in conversation, everything that you do, and notice the change it sparks in you.

And of course share any experiences or thoughts you have on mindful meditation!


[...] Mindfulness:  Turn off the radio and focus your attention on the road.  Be present, try to hold back from letting the mind wander, and observe the world around [...]

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