Mindfulness practices originate from Buddhism, but they’ve become trendy in America recently. Ancient meditation techniques have been re-branded as Mindfulness. These techniques are designed to connect you with the present moment exactly as it exists right now. It’s the “Be Here Now” idea. There are lots of ways to achieve this state. You can pick an entry point by focusing on one thing, like an object or your breath, and really noticing everything you can about it. Once you’re in wonder at that one thing, you can expand your awareness to the other things around you. I like to expand until I can see my place in the universe and the universe’s place in endless existence. It’s a wonderful feeling. It feels sacred.
To achieve a mindful state, you have to pay attention to exactly where you are in time and space and be aware of what’s around you. What do you see? What do you feel in your body? What do you hear, both from far away and close by? How many different things do you smell? What temperature is it around you? In what ways are you acting on or being acted upon by your current environment?
The things I like to do to become mindful are simple. I’m a big fan of exercise because I can make it a meditative and mindful experience by paying close attention to my form and the way my muscles move and feel. I also love taking mindful showers where I do everything in slow motion so that I don’t miss a single detail of the experience. Sometimes I wash a dish or my hands in slow motion as well, if I need a quick and easy entry point.
Meditation is also tremendously helpful for mindfulness, but the concept scares some people away because they think it’s too hard. Meditation is being present inside yourself, nothing else. It’s not at all complicated. There are lots of guided mediation exercises on youtube to pick from. Start with a short one and see how you like it. They explain everything you need to do, so don’t worry about getting it wrong. You’ll learn as you go.
Training myself to tap into mindfulness is the best tool I’ve acquired so far. It makes me instantaneously happy to find the moment. It takes some practice, and I still can’t do it at the drop of a hat. It’s something I have to work at. But that work pays off big time, for sure.
I hope you’ll try an exercise of mindfulness. It might become one of the best tools you have.
By Emily Harrington, The Goldfish Painter