If you have been watching or reading the news lately you have likely heard this phrase and much about how living more mindfully can benefit you, your circle and the world at large. But what does mindfulness mean and how does it differ from meditation? Many assume mindfulness IS meditation and while it can be similar in intent, the two are not exactly synonymous. In this and the next blog, we are going to dive deeper into these practices and why/how they can benefit the world and also look at how you can incorporate both mindfulness and meditation into your daily life.
Mindfulness is a method of staying present and being in the moment. When you mindfully eat your dinner, you are aware of each bite, savoring the smell, texture, and flavor at the moment. When you mindfully spend time with another person, you are focused on "being" with them and enjoying your time together right now. Sometimes its easier to think of mindfulness in the opposite. In the examples above, this would mean eating dinner while doing or thinking about something else entirely and at the end of the meal...you don't even remember how it tasted or sometimes what you even ate! Time with another person is overshadowed by your to do list, or distractions such as texts, Facebook, Instagram. Essentially, focus is the essential aspect of mindfulness. Singular, in the moment, consistent focus.
Stop. You are thinking that is really easy, right? Okay....stop what you are doing, focus on where you are at, what your senses are experiencing, right now. How long before you were distracted by something like a list, new idea, ping of the phone?
Here's a more personal example: I have recently become more involved with Instagram. When I am experiencing something wonderful or see a beautiful or inspiring view, I often begin thinking of how I could post this and what would I say. This is our life now. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, email, phone....we are so busy thinking of how we are going to tell people about it that we just missed the moments of beauty for ourselves. Mindfulness is enjoying the moment, blissfully absorbed in it...soaking it up.
What can mindfulness do? Many things. Mindfulness can help you eat healthier by allowing you to experience your food and enjoy it so you don't overeat or eat for the wrong reasons. Mindfulness can bring depth to your relationships with others because when you focus on one person, you really see them, listen to them and relate to them on a new level. You will see things you might have missed were you not mindful. Your experience of the world, the earth, and all of its beauty and need for protection and care will be deepened. You will "see" the world in a new light. You will "feel" more fulfilled. There is much out there for you but in a world where we are asked to be chronic multi-taskers, we miss so much of it: the stunning colors, sounds and smells of sunset; the vivid colors, unique sounds, and amazing textures of the cardinal on the fence; the smells, flavors, and textures of your favorite food.
You are probably thinking that mindfulness cannot be a full time thing...and, you are mostly right. It is difficult in this world to be mindful about every moment; but, if you begin with small moments, you will find that throughout the day you develop a deeper sense of appreciation and awareness for all that is in your life. This takes practice. Maybe a reminder bell a few times a day to stop and breathe and sense what is around you fully for just a few moments. Sitting at the table and remembering to smell your food, look at it...before you take that first bite. It starts here. It starts small.
And that is where meditation comes in. Meditation helps you train your mind to focus and be comfortable there. But more on that next blog!
For now, if you are interested in mindfulness, take a look at the app "Buddhify" (reasonably priced for all platforms) and if you find you are ready to try meditating but need some guidance, take a look at Headspace (free for first 10 days, then yearly subscription) and also checkout my free meditation offerings on YouTube at http://bit.ly/TheYogaRangerStudio.
If you have ANY questions, please comment below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to answer any questions I can! Peace & Namaste - Aprille
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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