This is my thirteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.
M= Mindful Living: Mindful living (mindfulness) and living in the now really go hand-in-hand, and while many people may view them as being the same, and even use the terms interchangeably (myself included at times) I think there are some important differences. While living in the now, and mindfulness, both involve rooting your thoughts and emotions in the present, mindfulness involves much more focused attention on your physical sensations and emotional states moment-by-moment. For example, if I have a major deadline looming at work, living in the now would involve not allowing that deadline to become a stressor, and instead direct my focus and energy on remaining calm while working diligently on the project in a focused manner (all I can do is what I can do right now, if it can’t be done until tomorrow, then don’t worry about it). Mindfulness takes this a step further by directing your attention to your physical states, sensations, and emotions. Is my breath becoming rapid and shallow, am I starting to feel anxious, do my hands fill cold and clammy, are my head or neck muscles becoming tense?
Mindfulness requires a sort of constantly flowing, moment-by-moment examination of life, it requires you to direct your full attention on this very moment, the right here, right now. This can be difficult, because in today’s fast-paced technological world, we are constantly being bombarded with ringing cellphones, text messages, email alerts, television chatter, etc. This causes us to pay more attention to the external world, than we do on our own thoughts, sensations, and emotions. Mindfulness practice is extremely important, because it forces us to slow down, and keep our emotions and physical responses in check during stressful situations. Mindfulness also, allows us to really drink in and enjoy peaceful, relaxing, and joyous moments. Basically, instead of letting the “monkey mind” bounce our thoughts and emotions around like pinballs in the game of life, mindfulness forces us to slow down and truly “experience” life in all of the wonderful detail available to us.
Mindfulness and living in the now practices, allow us to live a fuller and more happier life, because through these practices we can enjoy the happy times more fully by being as emotionally and physically present as possible, and we can also take the bad times as they come, and move beyond them step-by-step when the time comes (and it always will).
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa
Practical Tip: A great mindfulness technique for beginners, is to simply set aside 30 minutes or so a day, where you remain totally open to all of your physical sensations and emotions. As feelings and emotions arise, take note of them, and let them pass away. I have found this to be a wonderful practice during relaxing times like nature walks, sitting by my koi pond, etc. It is also helpful during stressful times because when anxiousness or stress begins to occur, I take note and let those feelings pass away, rather than allow my mind to latch on to them, which can snowball into panic. As time goes on, try to extend your mindfulness sessions, until mindfulness become a habit, rather than just an exercise.
I would love to see your thoughts and comments on mindful living, and what you have done, or plan to do, in order to live more mindfully. If you wish to use the topic of mindfulness as a point of reflection during the week, I would love for you to share any thoughts or insights that come up.
Please come back next week for the next installment of this series, and as always if you enjoyed what you read, please share on social network sites, subscribe to this site, and share this site with others!
Also please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click on the book cover to view on Amazon.com)