How is it for you? As a mindfulness practitioner being aware of how I am is a regular practice. Do the questions why and how interest you? Let’s investigate them.
Why be aware?
Mindfulness encourages you to pay attention to each moment as if it is all there is. Which it is of course. But your attachment to past events and future possibilities generates many thoughts and feelings, taking you away from truly experiencing the moment.
Mindfulness encourages you to be aware of your sensations, your thoughts, your feelings and how you are living. And it is meditation that trains your mind to achieve this level of awareness. But why bother?
I believe you should bother because this way of being encourages the greatest learning you can achieve, a clear and deep understanding of who you are and how you are living.
From this intention to work towards an understanding of self, develops the possibility of true self acceptance and the possibility of living the best life you can.
This is a journey, rather than a destination. It is a commitment to honesty, integrity and authenticity. The journey will be challenging, life is challenging. But if you can see life as a series of challenges rather than blessings or curses then you are truly a spiritual warrior.
How to be aware?
Mindfulness and meditation are practices that support this way of being. But if you start with a commitment to the idea that all of life is a practice then your path becomes visible.
Everything that arises in your life is an opportunity to notice how you are. To notice the thoughts and the feelings. You don’t need to do anything with what you notice, just noticing begins a process.
Noticing your thoughts and feelings is the first step towards accepting what they are and developing the possibility of responding skillfully to the situation, rather than reacting in you normal habitual manner.
Having a regular meditation practice supports your ability to be present in your life. It is mind training. Paying attention to any activity – walking, washing up, taking photos, arranging flowers – turns it into a kind of meditation that we call a mindful activity. All of this is training for your monkey mind and supports your intention to be fully present in your life.
How it is for me
I have been very busy over the last two weeks completing my online course in Mindful Photography. In that busy-ness I lost my attention to how I was. The consequences of striving and not paying attention to the impact of that effort manifests in my body.
My breathing gets more difficult. This of course should bring me into the moment. I have plenty experience of this pattern. It is a habitual behaviour. But even with years of experience it still takes a while to realise what is happening.
Now I have connected with how it is. I have taken a break, pending finalising details over the next two weeks, and paid attention to how I am. The consequence of this paying attention is improved breathing. I know, it’s not rocket science. If I rest, if I pay attention I recover. But I get caught up in how I want things to be. I am caught up in the future and not being present with how it is now. Once I return to this moment life has a chance to re balance.
If you don’t have a regular meditation practice I encourage you to start one. It will make a difference, an almost imperceptible difference, over many years.
Just start with 5 minutes, every morning first thing before you do anything else. If this is not an option spend 5 minutes somewhere in your day sitting, with eyes closed and follow your breath.
As you gain in confidence and regularity increase the time. I sit every morning and do a little yoga for at least 20 minutes. I have done this for many years. Only when it became a daily practice did I begin to notice it influencing the rest of my life. But it remains an ongoing practice. I still fall over. All I have to do is get back up again!