Mindfulness enables us to be present in the now. When we are present in the moment, our capacity to embrace joy is enhanced. As with many significant practices, it is a simple thing to do, but not necessarily easy at first.
Each day is filled with wonderful moments: a beautiful flower, an amazing sunset, the sound of nature, the moon, an enjoyable meal, a quiet moment, a smile. The simple things in life provide opportunities for considerable pleasure. However, if we are not present, most likely, they will go unnoticed. With mindfulness, we can enjoy the moment, and experience a joyful life. Life is filled with moments, so doesn’t it make sense that when we fill it with joyful moments, life is filled with joy?
This is what Dictionary.com has to say about “mindful”:
attentive, aware, or careful (usually followed by of ): mindful of one’s responsibilities.”
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has this to say about “Mindful”:
“Mindful awareness can be defined as paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. It is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern times. It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one’s inner experience.”
A mindfulness search brought this from Wikipedia:
The Buddha advocated that one should establish mindfulness (satipatthana) in one’s day-to-day life maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one’s bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself. The practice of mindfulness supports analysis resulting in the arising of wisdom (Pali: paññā, Sanskrit: prajñā). A key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative stabilisation must be combined with liberating discernment.”
As I see it, mindfulness is going through the day in a light meditative state. When we meditate, and our thoughts wander, we return to a mindful state by gently letting go of the thought and returning to our point of focus, which is our breathing, a mantra, or something else. It is the same with being in a state of mindfulness as we go about our day: when we find ourselves in an unconscious state, we return our attention to the task at hand.
If you find this practice to be somewhat difficult at first, don’t be discouraged. As with all other spiritual practices that greatly benefit you, it can take time and a bit of practice.
The next time you take a bath or shower, pay attention to your thoughts; are they rambling, or are you enjoying the sensations of the moment?
When you’re driving, are you traveling along on autopilot, thinking about yesterday, tomorrow, or what you’ll do when you reach your destination, or are you paying attention to the task of driving and your surroundings?
A significant time to be cognizant of our thoughts is as we are lying in bed, before going to sleep. Rather than replaying the negative aspects or our day (or the late night news we just watched… which is not recommended), this is an opportune time to review our thoughts and actions of the day, without judgment, observing our actions from a higher perspective; replaying the ones we would like to change in a manner that provides the desired conclusion – a pleasing outcome.
When we are mindful, we are in a conscious state, highly aware of our actions and our surroundings. We are present in the moment when we are conscious and deliberate in our actions.
I invite you to play with being mindful during your daily activities, while bathing, driving, washing dishes, interacting with others and whatever else your day entails. If you are like me, you will find that, at times, you dropped the mindful thing an hour or more ago. When that happens, I just start over and drop into the moment by placing my attention on what I am doing. I find that it is helpful to post a note that says “mindful” on my to-do list and on my bathroom mirror.
If you decide to do this, be easy on yourself, but hold onto the practice of mindfulness. Incorporate it into your daily life as a solemn vow to appreciate your true self and all that you are experiencing. In doing so, you will find that your state of mindfulness will pave the way for increased clarity, balance, and inner peace. But mindfulness also makes us happier, as it provides an expanding capacity for finding joy in the string of moments that compose our experience here.
As with anything, it gets easier with practice and determination. Be patient with yourself.
Below are some youtube videos about mindfulness. The first two are a few minutes, and the last two are around eighteen minutes. The speaker in the third video states that mindfulness can assist with depression and reduce negative thoughts.
What is Mindfulness:
Mindfulness from a scientific perspective:
An explanation of mindfulness practice from a former Buddhist nun:
An explanation of mindfulness practice:
Be joyful, embrace life and thrive!