Mindfulness is the essence of living in an awakened state. It is a natural state of mind that lasts until we are distracted. Most of us live in our distractions, so we must be reintroduced to mindfulness. Since we have become habitually distracted by our worries and our hungers, we may need to approach mindfulness as a practice-- to develop the habit of returning our mind to its natural mindful state.
Our tendency is to get caught up in thinking. If we are in a physical or emotional state we find aversive, we may engage in thinking about how to change that condition. We may find ways to distract ourselves from our experience. We may spend time worrying about how things could get worse. We can become so swamped by thoughts about our unfortunate condition that we lose track of anything else that is happening in us or around us.
Let's say we wake up in the morning and we have a number of things we need to accomplish that day. We may start thinking immediately about those tasks and how we feel about them. Maybe we think it's too much to do. We wish we didn't have to do it all. We are tired, so we wish we could go back to sleep. We experience resentment at having to get out of bed, but we know there will be unfortunate consequences if we don't get going. We have a little worry about failure to perform adequately. We are sleepy, hungry, resentful, and maybe a little anxious. With all this going on below the level of awareness how can we enjoy the morning? How well are we going to perform during the day?
In a state of mindfulness we become aware of our thoughts and feelings and may choose to modify them. We are also in a position to enjoy the simple pleasures of being alive and awake. When we are mindful, we are cognizant of our perceptions. We are aware of sensations, surroundings, circumstances, and the flow and content of our thoughts. Mindfulness is remembering to be aware.Mindfulness practice involves repeatedly bringing one's awareness back to the present. Examine what is happening now! What are your sensations, what are your thoughts? Notice your thoughts without letting them carry away your awareness.
Through your day remember to be aware.
Notice what is happening around you.
Check your sensations. Notice your perceptions of touch, smell, sound, sight, taste.
Notice the feelings in your body.
Become aware of any tension in your body or places of discomfort.
Breathe and allow yourself to relax.
Notice the flow of your thoughts.
Seek to move along in your daily routine with greater self awareness.
When you lose touch with your senses, when you lose awareness, bring yourself back to the present.
Enjoy this moment. Breathe it in. Let it flow.
© 1995-2002 Tom Barrett