What exactly is Mindfulness? (1 of 3) 2



This is part 1 of a 3 part series exploring Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word lately. It simply means to notice the sensations of the moment. That is, to be present with them. Or mindful. So we notice and keep on noticing the present moment.

These present-moment sensations are physical, such as touch, smell, noticing the subtleties of the breath, and also inner sensations or feelings.

 

Here’s an example of two ways of walking down the street:
  • There’s the one I used to use all the time and still sometimes do – basically just charging along briskly – perhaps with the thoughts rolling around my head and using the time to think.

  • Then there’s slowing it down and focusing on sensations …feet on the earth, air on the skin, smells, sights, body movement … and so on.
Can you see the difference? The second way is the mindful way:
Walking to walk, rather than walking to get to the destination.
But what’s the point?
Having the attitude of choosing to live every moment of your life (or as many as possible) being present with the sensations means that you get to feel the rich tapestry of sensations and feelings that are often missed when we are stuck in our heads.
Often the simple, everyday things are what gives life its colour, texture and richness.
Following on from the example above, have you ever really felt the way we shift our entire weight from one foot to the other when we take a step? How many tiny balancing muscle movements we make to achieve it? It seems so simple but it can be rich and interesting to explore.
Are you someone who is always looking for the next big hit of experience, you know, the marathon run, the bungee jump, the mountain to climb, the various extreme sports or visits to exotic locations?  I’m not saying these aren’t great to do (after all, I’m writing this in Princeton, USA, all the way across the world from where I live in Melbourne, Australia) but sometimes we can fall in the trap of missing what is right here with us every moment.
We put off living the life we are having now, in order to dream about the one that is a fantasy in our head!
To the extent that we are in our head with our thoughts, this is the extent that we are NOT being present with the sensations of the moment.
Another benefit:
One of the reasons mindfulness has become a bit of a buzz word lately is because it is turning out to be a very useful therapeutic tool for anxiety and depression. It can be really beneficial if you tend to get a bit ‘trapped’ in your thoughts to focus on the present moment.
But we limit it if we think that’s all mindfulness is. It is a practice of living life meditatively.
Mindfulness is bringing our meditative awareness into living our life.   
I have deliberately not given many examples, because it would be great if you could come up with some. What have you done mindfully? Did it make a difference to your experience? I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comment section below.

Watch out for part two of this series soon. We will explore some more examples of mindfulness. But in the meantime please share your experiences of mindfulness practice.