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“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Mindfulness is the art of being aware, the use of all of our senses to experience the reality of every moment, in the moment. The practice of being mindful is something that evades many people, myself included. There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness such as a more stable mind, being in control of your thoughts and being able to focus for longer periods of time. Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of our own thoughts, feelings and our interactions with the world. On the mat during yoga or meditation, it can be much easier to cultivate the appreciation, focus, intention and time to really experience the moment. When class is over and the rest of the world comes back into focus we tend to get caught up in the things that need to be done and auto-pilot kicks in. We go through all the motions often without a second thought about what we’re doing.
This was something I spent time contemplating while I was reading The Sun My Heart. In The Sun My Heart, Thich Nhat Hanh writes about practicing mindfulness while doing dishes. This was something that caught my attention being someone who is never overly thrilled to be washing dishes. Hanh says, “The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles!” Now, from time to time I find myself at the sink and the miracle of the situation finds it’s way to my consciousness and I try to fully appreciate and absorb what I am doing.
This may be a concept that is just finding it’s way into your life or you might be someone who works to intentionally practice mindfulness, in either case see if you can practice mindfulness as you go about your week. I challenge you to find one thing you can do each day where your intention is living in the moment as you may learn something new about yourself in the process.You can practice mindfulness anytime; while you are cooking or eating, walking or driving, while you are getting ready at the beginning of the day or when mellowing out at the end of the day. When the week is up, if you have the opportunity, take a few minutes to reflect on your experience.
A few ways to introduce mindfulness into your daily life include,
- Practice Conscious Observation- allow yourself to become absorbed in what you are observing, utilize the senses.
- Mindful Eating/Cooking– slowly and with attention to all aspects of the food you are ingesting or preparing.
- Breathe– paying attention to the path of the breath within the body.
- Check in– throughout the day and ask yourself, “Am I in the moment, or am I thinking about something that has passed or what is coming next?”
- Mindfully Cleanse the body– As you bathe, wash your hands, or brush your teeth.
- Waiting Patiently– in traffic, before an appointment, for something to begin or someone to arrive, let this time be an opportunity to practice mindfulness..
As with any practice, the time we put into it is reflected in the benefits we experience. Allow yourself permission to take the time to enjoy your time and to live in the moment.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”
– Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+