We’re awake on one level but another level life is often passing us by. All too often we talk about in our common language I missed it completely. I was just lost, I wasn’t here for it and sometimes that happens many times in the course of the day, sometimes we look back and it’s a decade later and we ask ourselves the question: Where was I for my children was growing up? Where was I emotionally for my life with my wife or my husband or my children? So there’s something very poignant about the present moment since it’s always now. All of the stresses in our lives happen now, all the decisions that we have to make in our lives happen now. And yet often enough we’re living in past. While we’re living in the future, but the past is gone, the future hasn’t arrived. But now is right here. This is when we hear the sound of the birds, this is when we feel the caress of our child’s hand against our face. Mindfulness is a way of beginning to become more attentive to the present moment, to the actuality of being alive and maybe even more importantly participating in that act of being life.
Mindfulness is the whole way of living, it’s a way of being engaged deeply connected and tapping into inner resource that’s always available. Mindfulness is the awareness that rises when we pay attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally. Can mindfulness helped me be more concentrated and focused? Can mindfulness help maybe have more of a sense of mental stability in the sense of can the mind be more stable, more present, more focused, more directed. When we first wake up in the morning might be worth taking a few moments to stop while you’re lying there in bed, take a few breaths, feel the breath in the body, open the eyes, notice the sounds around you or the light streaming into the room or the quality of the darkness, if it’s still dark out there. Just those few moments are a way of grounding ourselves on purpose in this present moment. We’re all going to be stressed, there’s no doubt about it. Stress isn’t a bad thing, in and of itself I think there’s a real difference between stress and feeling what people often say is I’m stressed out. Mark Twain said my life has been filled with terrible tragedies most of which never happened and what he was really pointing to and he’s an own unique way. I’m catastrophising all the time. I’m thinking about things way out in front of me that have never happened. I’m speculating about what will happen, but they haven’t happened.
There are many things that are stressful to many of us but even inside that there’s going to be individual differences. Knowing your own self can help so much, it’s like saying you know when I’m in busy traffic or I tense up. So knowing that, can help you not have to just fall into the same old reactive pattern, then you face it skillfully. You might even say mindfulness is tools to meet stress, to meet tension in the body, to meet thinking that feels overwhelmed. That’s one of the cues for me if I hear my internal voice say I’m overwhelmed, that’s a time for me to really stop to ground to take a breath to just get more space. Sometimes step outside, shift for a moment. If I’m indoors see the sky open to nature, a few breaths and actually what that’s doing neurologically is a re-balance this term. Balance that comes with meditation or mindfulness.
This is a very base biological definition of where we come into greater restorative state and it may be many times during the day that we meet this and we re-calibrate. If you’ve ever stood on one foot, it’s a balance you find, that there’s tiny little movements, these little re-balancing, out of balance re-balancing, out of balance. So it’s not some fixed static state, it’s very very alive. When it’s informed by awareness or mindfulness we can more skillfully meet those moments of being out of balance. You might think of three qualities that are involved in mindfulness: one is attention, so choosing to be awake in each moment of being alive. Intention is the choice to do that purposeful choice and the other is attitude and attitude is the kind of open curiosity that we bring to what we’re aware of in the moment.
The research has been suggesting that these practices can have a powerful and positive effect on health and well-being across a wide range of medical and psychological conditions. Medicine can do a great deal for us and to us. When you break your leg, you want somebody to do something to you, you want them to set that leg, you want them to do something for you. That essential and modern medicine has done a great deal for us. So there’s a lot we can do for ourselves in the domains of health and well-being. Nobody knows your body better than you. We know as well that about 80% or 90% of ongoing illnesses, our lifestyle is related. We can do something about that. I don’t think there’s any doubt any longer that the human being is at the center of their own health and wellness and that’s what we mean.
We’ve always got them, so if we take those as learning moments which is really a moment of mindfulness when we’re learning from it, because we know it it’s just not automatic any longer. We now know it we’re examining it in something, not through judgment, not to condemnation but because we want to know, we want to understand. Because that kind of understanding leads to changes in the way we handle the situation the next time.