I wrote this yesterday. Today is going to be preeeetty crazy. Tomorrow will be worse. And all week I’m going to wish it was the weekend. In a way I’m in the past present and future all at the same time, which means I am nowhere.
How sad is it that we spend five days of the week wishing it was the sixth day of the week, and the seventh getting ready for the first five of the following week?
Luckily it’s still beneficial to fit a minute of stillness somewhere in my day.
Are you facing a day from hell? Try this:
- Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor
- Close your eyes
- Breathe into any tension you feel and release it through your mouth
- Breathe slowly and deeply, paying attention to each inhale and exhale
- Repeat 5 or 6 times, pausing briefly at the top and bottom of the breath
- Gradually become aware of your surroundings as you open your eyes and return to your day
Peace . . .
A small group of seniors introduced themselves to me in the park one day last fall. Their expressions bore the spots and scars of age. One leaned precariously on another for support, her shriveled face lined and soft.
Inspired to stop and say hello, their friendly smiles brightened. They welcomed me to sit a while. It had been some time since someone had. They spoke to me of the sunnier, warmer season of their youth; of children who adored them and women who knew their names.
As I stood to leave, I snapped a photo, capturing their withered, fragile forms. We come to this world innocent, as young and flawless blossoms. It’s the storms we weather and the joy we encounter that engrave wisdom on our bodies and bestow upon us beauty.
Peace . . .
The best thing about mindfulness is that you can return to it at any time. It’s not the same as starting over. Starting over is what you do on Monday or January 1st. Returning is like a friendship. No matter how long you’ve been gone, once you’re back it’s like you never left.
Mindfulness allows you to process your world non-judgmentally. All living beings process their world using their senses.
Take the simple act of eating. Chances are you’ve eaten in the last couple of hours. What can you tell me about it? Certainly you know what it was, and possibly where or how much.
Try this the next time you eat….
- Set your food in front of you. Settle your brain. Relax your jaw and shoulders, and any other tension you feel.
- What does the food look like — the color of the food, table, plate? How does the light bounce across its surface? Is there steam?
- Hold it to your nose. What ingredients can you smell?
- Feel the food on your fingers or tongue. What is the texture?
- As you bite it, is it silent or crunchy? Snap. Crackle. Pop.
- Finally, taste it. Can you pick out individual ingredients? Does the flavor change as you chew?
- Combine your senses. Can you taste it better if you close your eyes, or if you look at the food?
- When is it time to swallow? When the texture is gone, when the flavor is gone, or when another bite is on your fork? Wait to pick up your fork until you know you’re ready for a new bite. Take your time.
What else can be practiced like this? What if we didn’t take a step until we were finished with the one before it, walking at a pace that pleasures us, rather than the one that gets us there faster, or raises our heart rate? What if we stop to look at a landscape as long as we find it beautiful instead of glancing at it through the window of the car as we drive by?
No matter how fast we go, the world forges on ahead of us. So many of us suffer from anxiety and depression, always feeling behind and playing catch up. Being mindful is one way to curb the anxiety.
Turning to meditation may help, looking inward to the rhythm of our own breath which is constant and faithful. Yoga is another discipline which, using breath, meditation and body postures, is widely used to practice mindfulness.
But there’s no rush. Like an old friend, it’s always there for you when you’re ready to return.
Peace . . .
attentive, aware, or careful (usually followed by of): mindful of one’s responsibilities.
It’s become quite a buzzword in recent years.
To be in a state of mindfulness requires you are in the present. Not in the last minute or the next, but always in this fleeting present moment.
This moment is what passes while we are capturing the perfect selfie or posting it to Twitter. Hey, I’m never going to give up my social media, but I’m painfully aware that mindfulness and Instagram are never going to coexist. We can spend the best moments of our lives looking for the next photo, or we can put the friggin’ camera down and be there.
My days are spent like most people, eating my cereal while I’m packing my lunch, running late for work, and driving brainlessly while I catch up on the news. Life could be much more meaningful if we could be present at every minute. Let’s face it, it just isn’t going to happen outside of a mountain monastery.
I like to think my camera and I have a fairly healthy relationship. She comes with me on long walks, showing me things I might otherwise have overlooked. We like to “focus” on little things. Pun intended.
Don’t get me wrong. An ocean is beautiful, but I see it knowing that thousands of other people have seen it too. It’s the single wave that breaks along the shore that moves me. You need to be there to see it. Be present. It’s like a fleeting moment, as quickly as it’s come, it’s gone.
“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne
Peace . . .
Cesar Millan is a well-known dog behaviorist, author and television personality. He teaches humans how to be the pack leader for their dog with calm assertive energy. If you watch carefully, you’ll learn everything you need to know to lead a pretty well-balanced human life.
Here are his 10 Principles for Achieving Balance, adapted for humans.