Mindfulness

I had read a book recently about mindfulness. By definition, mindfulness is an adjective used to describe a person being “attentive, aware, or careful” and the book focused on the applicability of this in your life.

This concept isn’t new. It is what every cliche saying reminds us of in a manner of unmistakable urgency:

“Live life to the fullest every moment, no one is promised tomorrow.”

Better yet, my personal favorite:

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift… that is why they call it the present”

…haha cheeeeesy. Yes. I know.

But the concept has a point.

And I don’t mean this from a “you could die tomorrow” sort of way. If that were the case, you would be living each moment with an attempt to fill it with the best memories, experiences and once-in-a-lifetime activities. If that were actually the case, I would hope you would have a little more on your mind than riding a bull named fu man chu.

I’m talking about just being in the moment. Even when doing mundane activities. I don’t know about you, but this is contrary to every aspect of my life. And I wish it weren’t. It seems as though I tune every sense out except those that present themselves with some sort of urgency…like the oven timer beeping or my phone ringing. By doing so, I am depriving myself of the simple pleasures… birds singing, wind chimes blowing…the evening breeze. Often times, I don’t even notice these things! How sad, huh?

So I decided to do an experiment. Well the book wanted you to eat a raisin in “the moment”… but I chose an egg sandwich instead. (Get off my back, I was hungry) First bite… success! I tasted my food. I listened to the sound of my crunching. I heard the refrigerator humming. I saw Dolly staring at me from under the table, dreaming of the day that I drop my entire sandwich onto the floor. The next thing I remember was my last bite! I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even stay in the moment without my mind wandering for more than one bite! No wonder the book recommended you start with a raisin!

Side note: Have you ever heard of Intuitive Eating? I was reading about this and think this is a perfect example of mindfulness. It is supposed to completely change your relationship with food. Lets face it, most chronic dieters don’t have a good relationship with food. Either, you love food a little too much (guilty as charged) or you have emotional issues that you avoid facing through eating food. Intuitive Eating is more for the people that just enjoy food too much. It teaches you to eat slowly, to enjoy every bite instead of just wolfing your food down. It also emphasizes listening to your body to know when to put the fork down. Eating, then, becomes a more fulfilling experience…which, in turn, makes you eat less. People swear this works….and I’d love to give it a try if I could get passed the first bite without regaining consciousness in the aftermath, wondering what happened to the contents on my plate. haha

Getting back on track… mindfulness…

But it just proved my point: most of my living in the “present”… I completely miss….because my mind is somewhere else! The book teaches you meditation to help you to become more “aware” of your surroundings in the present. I’m not really a meditation kind of girl… I’m more of the prayer type. Not saying that meditation is wrong… but I just feel more productive talking to God or being silent in His presence, than I do just sitting there trying with great effort to think about nothing.

Mindfulness affects so many aspects of your life. Think about how many times you are engaged in conversation with someone…but your mind is elsewhere. Even though you nod and appear to be listening, you only give the person 50% of your attention. How sad is that? What would happen if you gave someone 100% of your attention? For me, I think I have just ingrained it in myself that productivity comes from multitasking. I know this stems from my previous job… it was so fast paced that if you weren’t doing 5 things at once, you were way behind. This mentality just carried on into my personal life. Which is one of the reasons I hate the phone; I feel so trapped. I can’t just talk on the phone for an extended period of time. I am either browsing the Internet or pacing all around the house, thus, giving the person on the phone about 25% of my attention. I recognize this and am open about the fact that I don’t enjoy phone conversations; I’d much rather talk face to face (or text). I can concentrate then… or at least won’t be tempted to multitask in front of you. haha

It’s funny, I will drive by houses and see people just sitting outside on their porch. In theory, I’d love to go sit on a porch…that sounds like a good idea, but I don’t really believe it is a good idea. I secretly think to myself, what are they doing? Don’t they get bored? Where is their preoccupation! They should be inside making dinner or doing the dishes or running errands… Or doing all 3 of those things at once! I am beginning to realize that I have it all wrong. Life is so much more than “doing” things or “going” places…or constantly finding ways to busy ourselves. Sometimes it is ok to slow down and soak in all that is around you… You may just find joy in the most unexpected places.

The “psychology lover” in me knows the importance of taking personal inventory and being self aware of your emotions and behavior. Mindfulness is just an extension of this. It sounds great in theory, but it is not easy. Quite the contrary.

Just for fun… challenge yourself today. Be mindful of “the present”. Give everyone you talk to 100% of your attention. Better yet, give God 100% of your attention when you pray or read the Bible. Be mindful when you walk outside to get the mail. What do you hear? What do you see? Are you overlooking the blooming flowers? Or the butterflies fluttering by? Or the big, puffy clouds hanging overhead? Or the sound of jet engines blazing through the sky? (I am always mindful to that noise. haha It brings joy to my soul.) Wasn’t this so much easier as a child? Didn’t you notice everything back then? When did we lose that quality? Maybe it’s not too late to get it back. :)
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