Mindful or Mind Full
Mindfulness has become the latest buzz word on the streets. It has become fashionable to practice mindfulness. We are hearing about it in the media, in schools, in the corporate world, for busy mums and dads, for busy kids – the list goes on.
What exactly is mindfulness? According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgementally”. Kabat-Zinn studied with many of the world’s greatest yoga and Buddhist teachers, and combined his experiences of ancient wisdom with modern science to develop the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme.
In the Yoga Sutra* 1.2 yogah cittavrtti nirodhah – yoga is the understanding and quieting of the fluctuations of the mind – here we have another perspective on the meaning of mindulness.
I was a guest speaker and participant at a Mindfulness Symposium in my home city of Adelaide, discussing ways to introduce mindfulness to our children. There is much research being done on the benefits of mindfulness. Two qualities that are said to arise from the practice of mindfulness are happiness and peace.
So how do we practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is nothing new. Human beings have been practicing this naturally for thousands of years. It is our modern fast-paced lives that have changed. We have all become so good at multi-tasking – especially us women – and our culture tells us that this is a good thing.
Mindfulness sounds simple, but with our monkey minds and endless inner chatter, it is not so easy. And it doesn’t mean that we have to sit in a meditative pose for a minimum of 20-40 minutes everyday to achieve this inner state of calm and wellbeing. The most effortless way I find to be fully present in the moment is through my breath and to bring my senses into play. These are tools that we have at our disposal 24/7. We are always breathing, seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, touching, and feeling although we are not often aware of this.
Next time you prepare dinner, really prepare the dinner. As you chop the vegetables, bring your senses into play by seeing all of the different colours, smelling the aromas, touching and feeling the different textures, listening for any sounds, tasting the flavours and consciously BREATHING. If your mind wanders, simply note where it has gone and gently bring your awareness back to the task at hand – preparing the dinner.
Bring child-like qualities to the practice – be curious, be open, be non- judgemental, be playful and have no expectations.
There are so many opportunities in our everyday lives where we can practice the state of mindfulness. Here are just a few:
Washing the dishes
Taking a shower
Driving in the car
Eating your meal
Drinking a cup of coffee/tea
Taking a walk in a forest or on the beach
Walking the dog
Hanging the clothes on the line
Playing with your child/pet
Listening to music
Brushing your teeth
A little progress everyday leads to big results. For the next couple of weeks, practice being mindful in the shower every day. Check in with yourself after this time, and simply observe how you feel. You have nothing to lose and potentially so much to gain in the form of inner peace and happiness.
Stay health and happy,
*Yoga Sutras – written by Patanjali, an Indian sage - a collection of aphorisms outlining the art and science of yoga. They are thousands of years old.