“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t). ” James Baraz
The more I think about it, the more I ponder the equation, the more I practice it, the more I believe the “gurus” are right. The present moment IS. Nothing else exists beyond that or before it, now is now. Oh, yes I have memories and I can go back on them, and I have hopes and dreams, and I can fantasize about how my life will be in the next few years, yet too much back and forth takes me away from what is really happening now.
Take a moment, like I am now while writing:
What do you hear? I hear quiet music, cars going by, a chain saw at a distance, and the fans going in my home.
What do you feel? I feel the bed under my body, a bit of anxiety in my stomach, I have an itch on my head, and I just realized my toe is placed in a way that feels uncomfortable, so I change position.
What do you see… Look around? I see my computer screen of course, but when I take my eyes off it and look outside I see lush green trees, cars, trucks, and people going in and out of the convenience store. I see seagulls and pigeons flying around, and I see my garden blooming! Pink and red flowers, and cherry tomatoes getting bigger. I see a bright blue sky.
This whole process I just described took me about 10 minutes, and that whole time, I didn’t think of anything else, but what was going on around me.
Isn’t that cool?
It is not always easy to focus on the now, the challenge is bringing oneself back, when the mind wanders too far. Especially into worry about the future, or sadness or anger about the past. Oh I love recalling fun memories: like the funny things the kid’s said when they were little, or a great day with my mom.. or the time I ran to my grandmother’s house with my University Acceptance letter! Furthermore, I absolutely adore daydreaming about my future, my to be house, garden, husband etc…
Isn’t fun to think about what could be?
Yesterday, I lived in the now most of the day, it was great. I believe practice makes perfect, and yes it is easier to be in the now when one is having a great day!
I got to walk to the water, and watch my dog Gibson swim in the lake for the first time. The weather was perfect, a cool breeze without heat or humidity. I observed nature, and those who were boating on the water. It was easy to stay “there” and be aware of my surroundings, I didn’t miss a thing.
Ah…. but what about bad moments?
You know those days when stress is high, or suddenly something happens which saddens you? What do you do when you are angry with someone or a situation and the feeling of anger is too hard to bear?…….
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
I had to stop writing for 45 minutes this morning, I had an episode. As I was typing on my laptop, I started feeling panic, so I sat up like I usually do, but since I just wrote what I do when I feel happy, I tried the same thing for my panic. First things first, notice my breathing, then I started a body scan, taking inventory of how my body felt: roaring solar plexus, feeling of not being “here”, and I could feel my brows furrow. Then, I looked around and saw the same things I saw when things were calm: Trees, trucks, and people going in and out of the convenience store. The music was playing so I focused on the notes, instruments and melodies while taking deeps breaths. I took off my flip-flops to feel the cold floor under my fee. I asked myself:
What do I need RIGHT NOW?
I needed to breathe, to drink, and to move around. Then I proceeded to ride the wave. There are no 2 ways about it, I cannot fight it, it is happening now, but I can ride a wave. I closed my eyes and pictured myself a pro surfer taking on the biggest wave of the ocean.. I rode it in my mind surfing along even feeling the salt water splashing in my face. As the wave got smaller and I was getting closer to the shore, I felt my body ease, a grounding began to occur.
Ah… I am calming down slowly.
Once I was able to finally go out and walk the dog (not far mind you) I came back upstairs and started typing again.
I am here, NOW.. and I am OK!
Through the really good moments, and the really icky moments, and the in between moments. I can always breathe, feel, taste, smell, hear and touch.
Oh.. and while I was outside with the dog, I did my “stick my feet in the cold clover trick!” that works too.
I am understanding the importance of mindfulness in my life, even more. It is truly a gift to be able to accept “what is”. A challenge YES, impossible NO!
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life