I looked at the clock trying not to be noticed by my classmates. Our time together was coming to an end. I could feel longing for something that was still there, I tried to embrace it and stay present. That calming, peaceful room had became my Thursday´s sanctuary. I knew I wasn’t the only one there with those feelings. We’ve been learning and practicing how to become more mindful in our daily lives for the past six weeks under the guidance of my good friend Karen. We came a long way together, but now the hardest part was ahead, to keep practicing on our own.
So what is Mindfulness exactly? Mindfulness is to be aware of the feelings, thoughts and body sensations of the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains it best : [mindfulness] is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, as if your life depended on it. What do we need to pay attention to? it can be the breath coming in and out, it can be the feeling of the fibers wrapping up the body, it can be the anxiety to go check your email right now. It doesn’t matter what we choose to focus on, what matter is that we are “attending”.
Doesn’t sound that complicated, right? it is much more difficult than it seems. Once we stop and start paying attention we realize that we tend to be anywhere but here: we go to the past, thinking about what we should have done, we go to the future, fantasizing about how our lives will be, and so on. The good news is that it is doable and with different techniques, practice and repetition it gets easier.
Making an effort to come back to our senses and trying our best not to get lost in the tyranny of our judging mind, we can experience life in a more calm, joyful and meaningful way. But please note, life is still going to happen: we will age, we will get sick, the car will break down and what the hell, the ants are taking over the kitchen again! Those sneaky @&#% ! Mindfulness is not a way to escape misfortune or avoid unpleasant feelings, it is not a stress release technique, and it is definitely not a technique to get ahead in this competitive culture. Shining the light of awareness in dark times, can help us realize that we are not our circumstances. It can help us react to each and every moment with more kindness and compassion. It can help us make better choices.
Trying to explain here the foundations, the different techniques, all the health benefits and other facts of mindfulness would take me too long and I am also not an expert. I am just getting started on this path. I just wanted to introduce you to something that makes my life better. At the very least, maybe I can spark your curiosity.
Here are some resources that helped me get started:
This is Karen’s website, here you will find different guided meditations. Karen is an amazing teacher that really walk her talk.