Mindfulness has become popular in every corner of society. Football players practice mindfulness. Parents teach their children mindfulness. Schools provide courses in mindfulness. Just what is mindfulness all about, and what benefits does it bring?
The Basics of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ongoing mindset of being compassionately aware and present in the now. Mindfulness isn’t an activity one starts and stops, like yoga or meditation. Instead, mindfulness is an approach for handling whatever life brings forth. One can eat a dinner mindfully. One can talk mindfully with loved ones. One can mindfully go for a walk. The key is to be in that present moment. To put aside worries of the past or anxieties about the future. To be in this one now which we all share. To absorb it with all senses.
A key aspect of this presence is to be compassionate and understanding. It’s easy for emotions to rush in and push their influence. We can watch those waves come, as we would watch a tide roll in and out. We attentively understand that we are not the wave. We can observe it, and we can understand how it impacts us. But when the wave leaves again, we are still here.
The more we understand those “moving weather fronts” within our soul, the better we can remain steady and calm as they arrive and leave.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness brings with it a greater sense of calm, full energy which can lift us through whatever challenges life might have in store. It nourishes compassion and caring. It fosters focus and attention.
Mindfulness reminds us that this moment, here, matters, because it’s the only moment in which we can act. The past is beyond change. It is set. The future is unknowable. Just about anything could happen. But this present, now, is where we can make a difference. Where we can set our path.
Mindfulness Exercises – There are a variety of ways in which to explore and understand mindfulness. These are just a few ideas for you to start with.
Mindful Eating – Turn off the TV. Put down the phone. Sit with your food before you. Give thought to every person who helped ensure this food reached your plate. Farmers grew and cared for the plants. There were harvesters who gathered it up. People who washed and packaged the items. Truckers and maybe shippers who moved it closer to you. Store clerks who got them on the shelves. Cashiers who handed them over. Think of all those various people who played a part in ensuring you were nourished.
Mindful Walking – You can do this in a local park, in a wood, in a mall, along a beach. You can do this through your home. Take each step with slow attention. Give thought to the details around you. The scents. The sounds. The small visual details. Think about how each item is a part of the greater whole of this Earth we all share.
Mindful Being – Arrange a space in your room so it has interesting music playing. Create an aromascape that elicits a mood for you. Maybe it’s comforting incense. Maybe it’s an energizing essential oil. Maybe you combine violet and pine to remind you of your grandmother and grandfather. Now sit in this space and close your eyes. Let the music draw you in. Breathe in deeply, surrounding yourself with those aromas. Just be in that moment. If your mind wanders off, gently draw it back in to the moment you are in.
Mindfulness can be explored every day, at every moment, in any location. Mindfulness is about being here. Now. About being present. About experiencing this one now that we are all in. It is the only moment we ever have in which to make a change.