When most people speak of their mindful practice they talk about their meditations or yoga class. But mindfulness is not just about meditating for 30-40 minutes a day then going on with your busy life. Being mindful involves the practice of being present with each moment, this moment, the one right in front of you, the one you will never get back.
We are given a finite number of moments in a lifetime and with mindful focus we can give each moment the glory and wonder that it deserves. Of course, meditation is very important because it influences the quality of our emotions and on our state of mind. The time we spend in meditation can bring balance and focus to the mind, body, and spirit so that we can move forward in our day in a more thoughtful, focused way. Meditation is an exercise in being present.
Some people live their lives focused on the past, always focused what might have, could have, or should have been. If only I had done this, or if this person wouldn’t have done that to me my life would be better. Others live their lives in fear and are worried about the future. We are bombarded with fear filled information every day. It’s a wonder any of us leave our homes with all the negatives thrown at us every day. Most of us go through life burdened by the past and fearful of the future. Instead of living in the moment we are focused on other things.
When I speak of living in the moment however, I am not saying we dismiss those things. A great mindful practice acknowledges the important lessons of the past and uses those lessons to live in the present. We also look to the future and recognize that what we do in this moment effects our future. But we use this information to live in this moment, not worry or be burdened by those things.
By living a mindful life, we can bring meaning to our so-called “ordinary” activities; driving, eating, cleaning house, working, spending time with friends and family. The practice of mindfulness brings a new meaning to these activities and a focus on every interaction. It allows for an awareness that is free of the feeling we have wasted time. It is a powerful practice that will enrich, not just your life, but everyone and everything you meet.
Mindfulness is not a different name for meditation, it is an extension of our meditative practices in to our daily lives. Living a mindful life means we live a life in meditation. It takes practice to cultivate this focus. It takes discipline to be present in every moment. It’s hard work to find the constant connection to others that is part of the practice. It’s like taking your mind to the gym and giving it a workout.
The practice of mindfulness takes place when we wash the car, do homework, answer the phone, do the dishes, eat our lunch, talk with our partner…every moment of everyday we have to practice. Each moment is a challenge to find how present we are in the moment. This moment. This one right here!!!
No matter the task, we can always be more mindful of it. No matter what we are doing. When we are mindful we can find the compassion for others, the kindness of life, and the connection to the Universe in every little thing we do. It can be shown in the way we eat our food, the way we talk to a stranger, the way we look at the sunset, even the way we wash the dishes.
In mindfulness we feel connected to all life. It brings us to an awareness that all people have hopes and dreams, doubts and fears, anger and grief, joy, and love. The stories of our lives are unique, but the range of emotions and the experiences we feel are shared with all humanity. With this knowledge we can deal with life in a more compassionate way, feeling a part of something bigger.
Mindfulness softens the edges of the stresses in life, helps us reduce pain and depression and allows us to recognize that life is full of richness and wonder. With this practice we treat others with dignity and respect and find value in every moment of every day!
Living a life in mindfulness brings your life in to focus, and is the path to enlightenment.
Living a life of gratitude allows us to be Thankful for the blessings we have: the simple pleasures, the gifts of nature, health, happiness, family, friends, etc.
When we live with Gratitude we shift our focus from what we want, to what we have. It allows us to look at the ready abundance of all that is great in our lives.
When we live gratefully there is a profound change in our attitude towards life. Giving thanks makes us happier, healthier and more resilient. It makes our relationships stronger and improves our overall health by reducing some stress in our lives.
As we move forward in this week of gratitude, I challenge you to do this exercise every day.
Find one simple thing in your life that you are truly grateful for. Make it a simple thing, not your big screen, or your car, a small simple thing is what you are looking for, a thing you take for granted.
Once you find that small thing, write it down on a strip of paper, study it, then put it in your pocket. Throughout the day look at that piece of paper and imagine your life without that one thing. At the end of the day I want you to save that piece of paper in a drawer or book or something. The next day, start again, choosing another thing you are grateful for and follow the same steps.
At the end of the week lay all of your pieces of paper on a table and count them, read them aloud, then take a moment and realize...you are counting your blessings.
After you do this for a while it will put everything in perspective. Taking the time to have gratitude for the little things is an important part of being mindful.
Life offers us amazing gifts. Unlike any other creature on earth we are blessed with the gift to want to be better, to learn and grow, to experience happiness, and to love others.
We are all connected by an inner light and if we all just stop with the pettiness and learn to appreciate the gifts of life and each other, we can be happy, healthy, and wealthy for the rest of our days.
Gratitude should not be a reaction to getting what you want, it should be the act of embracing the little things. The hand of a loved one, a flower in the garden, the taste of a pear, waking up to a new day...these are things worth being thankful for.
Start today! Instead of waiting for that positive experience to happen to be grateful for, start bringing gratitude to every little thing in your life. Your life and attitude will change forever!
“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart
Peace and Love,