Be mindful! Be present! Meditate!
Do you hear this and do you say this to yourself?
Though it’s really only in recent years that we have been learning and hearing more, actually a lot, about mindfulness in the western world, it's been an ancient practice in the east.
But how successful and how easy has it been for you to practice mindfulness?
Being mindful is to be aware of what’s happening with you and what’s around you from moment to moment.
The most popular way people practice mindfulness is meditation. Focus on your breathing, still your mind, as thoughts enter your mind, let them go and bring your attention back to your breaths.
I have always found it challenging to practice traditional sit-still meditation. My mind is like a chattering monkey and simply doesn't know how to be still on its own.
Moving meditation, however, has been far more effective for me. Dancing, yoga, Qi Gong (a Chinese energy practice) and Taichi are some of my moving meditation venues.
In these practices, I am moving and focusing on my physical body, my attention is on a specific move or position at each moment in time. That’s it. Breathing helps to facilitate the execution of the movement or the alignment of the desired position.
My mind is engaged in paying attention to whatever is happening in the moment physically, but the anchor is the body, not the mind.
Here is a small and simple physical exercise to quickly bring your attention to your body for anchoring.
Rub your hands together vigorously. Continue for 20 seconds. You will feel the heat and energy in the friction of your palms.
Suddenly let go of your palms so they simply stop and float apart.
Feel the tingling in your hands. Really feel it. Feel every pulse in that tingling.
Right here, right now, you are fully present. You are fully aware of the moment, and your sensations.
You may also feel the dissipating warmth in your palms. You may notice your facial expression and the sensations in the rest of your body. To demonstrate mindfulness through your body, you simply need to focus on a single sensation - the tingling in your hands.
If I were to guess, you are already engaged in at least one physical practice in your life. It could be playing a sport or an instrument, it could be woodworking, or working on your motorcycle. It could be art, singing, dance, gardening, or any other form of expression. It could be going to the gym to workout. It could be walking your dog, or playing with any pet. It could be as simple as taking a shower, brushing your teeth, eating a meal, or drinking coffee or tea.
You don’t need to go anywhere else to reap the benefit of mindfulness.
Start with what you already do.
Simply focus on your physical sensation.
Pick just one of your senses, not two. If you are taking a shower, you could focus on the sensation of the water hitting your body - the sense of “feel”. If you are gardening or walking in a garden, you can focus on the aroma by activating your sense of “smell”. If you are eating a nice meal or your favorite fruit, you can focus on the sense of “taste”. I am sure you get the idea now.
With repeated physical practice, you can much more quickly bring yourself to the state of mindfulness.
Mindfulness shouldn’t be perspiring.
Forget your mind.
Anchor on your body. Have fun with your 5 senses!