Monday, January 18, 2010

Mindfulness: The key to practice

Mindfulness is a beautiful word. You know what it means just by looking at it. When you are mindful, your mind is focused on what you're doing. You are aware of where you are, what you're saying, how you're feeling, the food on your plate, the sounds in the air, the colors in the sky a sunset. When your mind is focused, you are focused. Why is this important? Because it brings you to the present moment, which is really the only moment that exists. The past is gone, and the future is not yet here. All we have is now.

That is the importance of mindfulness, to be aware in the present moment.

But it is not always easy. Sometimes, the present moment is not something we want to partake in. When we are in the middle of an unpleasant task, or very difficult part of our lives, we feel the need to escape. We would rather watch TV, play a game, eat food in excess, or even consume alcohol or drugs. Likewise, when we experience something really pleasant, like a wonderful meal, a beautiful view, a happy time with a loved one, we don't want to let go.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with having emotions. All creatures have them, and as humans we have devised a myriad of ways to express how we feel. We should not cheat ourselves out of experiencing emotions. In addition to developing concentration and an acute awareness of our surroundings, living in the present moment through mindfulness is when we are truly alive.

Think about it. Wouldn't you rather be alive than just here? I always have to think about how many times I have spent a whole day multitasking, thinking I was getting so much done. I may have on paper, but I was doing without experiencing, which is really what life is all about.

In the near future try to be fully present in one of your daily tasks. You will feel a connectedness to yourself and the universe that deserves to be cultivated.
For more words from Master Thich Nhat Hanh on mindfulness, click here.

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