What Is Mindfulness?

You have probably heard of the term. Mindfulness. It’s somehow related to meditation and stress relief. Just what is mindfulness, and how does one practice it?

Mindfulness does not require any special equipment. You don’t need to be trained in it. It’s completely free and we’ve all done it before. Mindfulness exists in every one of us. It is that moment when you are simply attentive to what is going on around you. It’s when you are “present” in that moment.

There are three points on our timeline.
* The past – it is gone. We can never change it.
* The future – it is not here yet. We cannot impact it.
* The present. That is all we can ever touch. It’s all we can change. This one moment before us.

It seems so simple, but there are so many times we get wrapped up hashing and rehashing the past which is far out of reach. There are so many times we spend ourselves obsessing and worrying over a future which never even comes to pass. And during all of that time you are missing out on the here-and-now. The part that really matters. The place where you can make a difference.

This isn’t to say you should never think about the past. You can treasure memories and learn from mistakes. That is different from wallowing in a situation which can’t be changed. It’s far better for you and the world to take that energy and invest it in something useful in the here-and-now.

It’s also not to say that you shouldn’t make any plans for the future. If you were to quit your job and spend all your time lying on the beach, you might soon not have a house to live in or a car to take you to the beach. Some planning and future-investing is important.

It’s even good to daydream. Daydreams are often what bring us to reach our goals.

The key is learning to focus when focus is useful. And that practice is about mindfulness.

All of us have a “monkey mind”. A mind which likes to flit and gambol and jump. This type of mind is useful for all sorts of reasons. But it’s also good to learn to train it. To realize when it’s cartwheeled to the left and to gently, with compassion, bring it to the present.

To the beautiful yellow flower before us.
To the heart-touching song the robin is singing.
To that scent of freshly poured coffee.
To the warmth coming from a loved one’s fingers.
To the taste of a freshly picked basil leaf.

The more we practice mindfulness, the more present we are. That benefits both us and the ones around us. We are more attentive when a loved one talks with us. Instead of drifting and thinking about someone else, we listen to them with our whole being and engage with them to help them. Our own energies aren’t dragged down by past or future worries. We take a moment to appreciate, with gratitude, all we have right now. The people who care for us. The food and shelter we have.

It’s all about this moment.

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