I love to think of mindfulness in this way. Mindfulness has become a buzz word lately and we have overcomplicated its meaning. It seems like we’re all trying to achieve this kind of joy by being more present, but the funny thing is, being mindful is one of the most intuitive parts of our human nature.
I was walking on a South Carolina beach recently thinking about how people who live near a beach must not struggle to figure out mindfulness. It’s built into their lifestyle. To experience beautiful spaces is to live with constant opportunities for mindfulness. But we don’t have to live near a beach to experience this. We can embrace the beauty in our lives and experience the the intoxicating effects of sitting squarely in your present setting. We can all think of times we have been fully present in the moment and it usually involves something beautiful or something that reminds us of our place in the world. I also like to think of mindfulness as a way of engaging our senses.
Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness and to get in touch with that part of your nature that wants to be present. Start with engaging your senses…
Sight: This can be as simple as stopping and looking your husband in the eye when he walks in the door and remembering why you love him. It can also be sitting at the lake and watching the water move and the clouds fade.
Hearing or sound: Sitting near any body of water can lull you just like our white noise machines in our bedrooms. I found myself sitting in the next room during the holidays listening to all the voices and the fullness of the house we were staying in. Sitting on your back porch and listening for birds or someone walking and crunching the gravel in the leaves. This can be turning music up so loud that it fills your body with vibration.
Taste: Have you ever noticed when you can take your time cooking a meal? It can be the most relaxing thing to have those activities that engages every sense. You’re smelling the fragrance, you’re seeing the colors and the shiny oils covering your food, you’re tasting each note of flavor you’ve added, you’re holding smooth carrots and a warm pan in your hand. If you don’t have time to cook, you can also do a chocolate meditation. One of my clients told me she does this locked in her pantry so her kids don’t get any!
Here’s a link to a chocolate meditation
Smell: This is smelling the oils emerging from your diffuser or sitting with your daughter and smelling her hair. This is going for a walk and taking a deep breath, allowing the smell of pine to relax your body.
Touch: There are many ways to be mindful with touch. You can pause and use a stress ball to squeeze and feel the sensation on your hands or you can use meditation to notice the sensations you feel in your body.
Here is a link to one of my favorites. Notice the places in your body that feel the most tension from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes. You then place your hand there, connecting your sense of touch to that tension. I like to go a step further and name what that tension is. It might
be fear, anxiety, sadness, etc.
I hope that we can all learn to make mindfulness a way of life. I think we can over complicate it, thinking we need a retreat in the woods or an hour yoga session to be mindful. But it is a moment by moment practice of being aware of your body and the ways that you take in the world around you.