What the heck is mindfulness? I’ll tell you what it is!
It is noticing, being aware. It is being present. It is being without bias, without judgement. Removed from the past, removed from the future. It is here and it is now. It is all happening now.
I understand this doesn’t sound particularly helpful. And there are hundreds of ways to be mindful… So here’s an exercise I’ve just done.
I was practicing ‘observational’ mindfulness. First I’ll give an overview of the general idea of observational mindfulness
. Notice your bodily sensations (coming through your eyes, ears, nose, skin, tongue)
. Pay attention on purpose, to the present moment.
. Control your attention, but not to what you see. Push away nothing. Cling to nothing.
. Practice wordless watching: Watch thoughts come into your mind and let them slip right by like clouds in the sky. Notice each feeling, rising and falling, like waves in the ocean.
. Observe both inside and outside yourself
Now here’s what I did
I went out into the garden and stood on the back step. I noticed the weight of myself on each foot, on each leg, not commenting on anything, just noticing, feeling the weight, I bounced up and down a couple of times, noticing the new sensation. It made me connect with the ground. I was aware of standing there. I was present. I was aware of my connection with the world.
I sat down and closed my eyes. Noticing the weight of myself on the step. The sound of the wind, the feel of it on my face. Noticed the cool touch of the breeze on my exposed skin. Heard the sound of my dog tapping gently around me, his paws and claws on the pavement. I listened. I listened to the texture and shape of the sounds; the wide swooping of the wind, the silence between one gust and the next. The consistency of my dogs paws clicking, the lightness and the easiness. I was aware of the sun coming out from behind a cloud. The glow of red on my closed eyelids. The warmth of the sun on my face.
I was aware that I was there, and connected and listening and hearing and sensing. It makes you feel alive. It makes you feel present. I breathed in a few times, feeling the cool air rolling throughout my lungs, the faint smell of grass, the smell of the wind and the smell of my dog.
I opened my eyes and was aware of all of my senses, the cool pavement under my seat, the weight of myself and my place in the world. The colours, shapes, contours, textures, sensing the hardness or softness of something just by looking at it. Seeing the details in the cracks in the pavement, each individual hair that breezed off of my dog and watching it slowly disappear on the wind.
The present is a place we visit so few times in our lives. I need to make a conscious effort to be a regular there. For now at least, I know that I am alive. A comforting notion when you so often feel nothing.