No Time for Meditation? Try Mindfulness
Many people are aware of the stress relief and overall health benefits provided by meditation, but may not find the time. When they think of meditation, they imagine sitting in a dark room with strangers cross-legged for hours chanting mantras, and between work, family and other responsibilities, that hour may be hard to find. People under stress may tell you that it is hard to find even half an hour or twenty minutes for meditation, but what if they were to find out that they can reap many of the benefits of meditation with their eyes open and by just going about their day.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves tuning in rather than tuning out. It encourages engagement with whatever task one is doing at the moment, even if that task involves simply breathing. The theory of mindfulness rests on the fact that one lets go of extraneous thoughts while carrying out basic activities. This isn’t an act of emotional repression, but a refusal to allow negative emotions to “attack” us while we are doing the dishes or performing tasks at work. Instead, when one has an extraneous thought or emotion, one observes it, without giving it fuel or pushing it away.
Mindfulness helps to unite the heart, body and mind and to create stability. It promotes attentive listening, reduces panic and anxiety and helps foster healthy relationships. Mindfulness also plays a role in stress relief because it encourages the one practicing it to let go of negative or harassing thoughts that can compound stress and instead to focus on the task at hand. In addition, mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, and doesn’t involve absenting oneself from one’s ordinary routine.
Everyday Mindfulness Exercises
You can apply mindfulness whatever you are doing and wherever you go. It helps to identify a few tasks every day or pleasurable activities and decide to approach them mindfully. This means shutting out extraneous thoughts and focusing only on what is at hand. For example, in the morning when you make coffee or tea, concentrate on plugging in the coffee maker, putting your spoon into the coffee, paying attention to how the coffee smells and the sounds coming from the coffee maker. When you take a shower, watch the water come out of the shower head, feel the temperature, look at the droplets on the shower curtain, and smell the fragrant soap.
Few people like chores, and given the fact that they are commonly called “chores,” who can blame them? The mundane, colorless activities that we may think detract from our lives and keep us from what we actually want to be doing may be goldmines of spiritual growth. Washing dishes, mopping the floor, folding clothes and the like are fantastic opportunities for mindfulness meditation. Simply devote your attention on the task at hand and view intrusive thoughts as if they are passing cars. Simple, daily tasks can be productive and can clear the mind and heighten one’s spiritual awareness.
The Five Pillars of Mindfulness
Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh developed mindfulness practice and adapted the five principles of Buddha Shakyamuni. These principles are explained by Marcia Radosevich and applied to modern mindfulness practice. Reverence for all living things involves respect for life and prevention of suffering. Happiness and hospitality helps us to open our lives to others and accept them for who they are. True love helps us to look beyond ego-based attachments and cultivate a deep appreciation for other people. Kind speech and compassionate listening is possible when we learn to listen to the world around us and speak in a way that promotes openness. Personal health and sustenance keeps us involved in the well-being of ourselves and others. Other articles and blogs about Marcia Radosevich and her approach the mindfulness and spirituality can be found on the internet.
Living in the Moment
Living in the moment doesn’t necessarily mean an invitation to compulsive behavior or a suspension of good judgment. The more we practice mindfulness the more we notice that we are spending much of our lives “killing time” or repeating patterns without paying attention to ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. This means that we regard what could be meaningful experiences as white noise. Mindfulness helps us truly live our lives with awareness of each moment, and therefore, not lose a single part of our experience. When going to work, we might worry about the day ahead, or when we come home, we may be thinking about what is going on in the kitchen, but if we take time to be in that train where we are sitting or actually driving our car without any additional thoughts, we get a sense of what it means to live mindfully.
Mindfulness is not meant to replace meditation. Instead it is a form of meditation practiced when we are going about our everyday affairs. It involves elevated ethical principles as well as the simplest observations, weighty concepts and separate impressions. The discipline trains the mind to filter out extraneous thoughts that may compound needless worry while sharpening concentration to deal with the tasks before us. Mindfulness can be practice anywhere you are and can lead to peace of mind whatever your situation.