Mindfulness is being completely aware of your surroundings. It’s smelling the air, listening to sounds, feeling the energy in your hands. It’s actively engaging yourself into whatever you are doing in the present moment. It’s not thinking about the future worries or past stresses. It’s completely feeling the now.
There is scientific proof that mindfulness and practicing presence can drastically change your mental and physical well being.
“I’m really excited about the effects of mindfulness. It’s been great to see it move away from being a spiritual thing towards proper science and clinical evidence, as stress is a huge problem and has a huge impact on many people’s health. Being able to take time out and focus our mind is increasingly important.”
Adrienne Taren, University of Pittsburgh.
How mindful are you? How often do you experience the following?
Forgetfulness “Where did I put it?” “What was I doing?” “Why did I come in here?”
Do you often lose your wallet? Do you all of a sudden panic thirty thousand feet in the air wondering if you turned off the coffee pot? Do you walk into a room and then wonder what you were doing? While grocery shopping I will often leave my cart off to the side and wander down the aisle to get what I need. I have on more than one occasion grabbed someone else’s cart and tried to walked away with it. It became very obvious this was becoming an issue when I searched twenty minutes for my cart after leaving it somewhere and taking someone else’s. Twenty minutes a day is about the average amount of time I have wasted being forgetful. That is 101 days of my adult life spent searching and figuring out what I was doing.
Clumsiness “I wasn’t watching where I was going.” “I wasn’t paying attention.”
Broken dishes, bones, chopped thumbs, burns, bruises. All things that have happened in the last year from my lack of paying attention to what I was doing and where I was going. For the most part they are injuries that have happened in the kitchen while watching reality cooking shows. If I am not focused on the task at hand, I will unconsciously attempt to match the speed of the contestants who are professional chefs and who are all being present.
People have to repeat themselves. “What?” “I’m sorry.” “Can you repeat that?”
I am staring right at him nodding and then his voice goes up at the end and I realize he just asked me a question and I have no idea what he said. I then feel really dumb because he had been talking for a good two or three minutes and by asking him to repeat himself would give away the fact that I was planning what I was going to say next instead of listening.
Wasted time, pain and embarrassment could have all been avoided had I just been mindful and focused on the present. Mindfulness is hard. The present is not an easy place to be. Your mind would rather be off anxious about the past and worrying about the future, so use worry and anxiety as a cue to get your head together. Bring yourself present by using your senses. I call it micro meditating.
Touch: Allow yourself to feel each key on the keyboard as you type. Your socks on your feet. The wind on your face.
Scent: Take a deep breath. Smell the good and the bad. Burn incense and concentrate on the smell every few minutes for just a second to realign your mind.
Taste: If you love food as much as I do, mindfully eating is fabulous way to practice presence. It really changes how food tastes, prevents over eating and cuts down on after meal bloating.
Listen: Pay attention to the sounds around you. An annoying stunt plane, a pug snoring, or a baby crying. Some sounds may not be pleasant but the idea is just to get to the now.
Sight: I have a bouquet of flowers that I have been moving from room to room. The sight of them make me happy and every few minutes I stop and for a second allow their beauty to go through me like a chill.
It takes a lot of constant practice and awareness, but the benefits of being mindful are very obvious and will happen very quickly. You will feel more alert and awake. You become less irritable and more patient. Ultimately you will be more at peace. And peace is really what we all want.