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
Who wouldn’t want this feeling?
If that’s true, why don’t we have more of this in our lives? The Universe has provided a gift certificate for each of us, so why don’t we redeem it?
Come on, you know you really want this? So what’s stopping you?
Any of these match your excuses?
- You believe your schedule can’t handle one more thing.
- The “shoulds” of your life have persistently loud voices in your head.
- You’re too busy planning for future contingencies—just in case.
- You’re addicted to the adrenalin rush of busyness.
- You continuously play “If only I would have…” for your past actions.
Serenity is attainable.
One of the keys to serenity is mindfulness, and I’m not talking about a “full mind”; we’re far too good at that definition. What I mean is, an increased and relaxed awareness within your mind.
Try out this exercise. And, yes, you really do have a few minutes for this. Before you begin, notice the pace of your breathing and the speed of your heartbeat.
Now, take a deep breath and let it out s-l-o-w-l-y. Repeat if needed. Then look around you, right now, wherever you happen to be while reading this.
Just look. Don’t label, just notice. What colors, textures, angles, and varieties of light do you see? Absorb the quality of the your environment.
Now close your eyes. And just listen. Again, don’t label; just hear. What kinds of sounds are out there? How close or far are they?
Eyes still closed, what scents are in the air? Pretend this is the first time you have encountered these scents, these sensations. How do these scents affect your nose? Your sense of relaxation?
Repeat these actions again, becoming aware of new sensations.
What differences do you observe in your body after having performed these simple actions? What do you perceive about the simple act of experiencing? How do these exercises differ from the way you normally interact with your surroundings?
Welcome to the world of relaxed awareness, aka mindfulness.
Isn’t it amazing that you didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything special to be in the moment? No money had to change hands, no fancy equipment was needed. All you had to do was be and notice.
And yet you found quiet and peace, if only for a few minutes. I’ll even bet that your thoughts slowed. You were fully present.
Every day our environment provides opportunities to quietly observe. Too often we let familiarity with our surroundings block our attention from really looking, listening, smelling, and truly experiencing in the fullest sense. We just move on to the next item on our to-do list, never pausing.
Each moment in our life offers us a chance to simply focus, without constantly naming or commenting on what we’re experiencing. When we still our mind‑when we are mindful‑we can truly be in each unfolding moment. And the haze of busyness can then give way to recognition of the beauty of each and every moment we experience.
Promise yourself that you will begin to notice. And as you do so, your mind will become quieter. Brief spaces will appear between your thoughts. The more you practice observing and just letting go, the more you will begin to notice that these spaces will grow larger, creating more stillness within you‑-serenity.
Your Call to Action
As you walk to your car today use all of your senses to engage with your surroundings. Consciously take a deep breath and slowly release it. What do you notice that tells you spring has arrived? What can you smell or feel in the air? Now take a look skyward. What colors do you see? What textures appear in the clouds? Are there birds? Take another deep breath and feel the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze, or the soft rain on your face. Notice the texture of the ground you are covering as you walk. Breathe deeply and just notice.
As you enter your car, take one more moment to notice. What differences do you feel in your heartbeat? Your breathing? Your mood? Ahhhh.