Mindful living means that we focus on the current moment, whether that be talking with our children or eating our food. But it doesn’t mean that we lose connection with the bigger picture of our life. Having a sense of purpose and setting goals gives our life meaning, but this needs to be balanced with focussing on NOW.
Mindful living opens us up to the possibility of more choices. Whilst I believe in having an overall sense of direction in our life, I do not believe in becoming so attached to it that we are unable to consider new possibilities. In week 1 of this series, being open-minded and compassionate were included in the definition of mindfulness. Even when we have a plan, it doesn’t mean that it will turn out just as we imagined. As we progress with goals and tasks on our plan, unexpected obstacles and new opportunities present. We need to build our confidence and clarity in our decision making to reflect on these.
A mindful life includes time for reflection and meditation. Mindfulness meditation, as mentioned in week 1, allows us to become aware of our mind—our thoughts, beliefs and emotions. It connects us to what is driving our choices in life. A daily meditation practice is recommended.
Part of mindful living includes the realisation that our that our body and mind thrive on a routine that is tailor made for us. This is not to say that the routine doesn’t change over time, as an example our routine might change with the seasons. What suits us for exercise in winter is very different to summer. Similarly our meal choices will change to meet our nutritional and energy needs. Our time for meditation may also alter due to different daylight hours.
Practising Mindful Living
Meditation practice is often recommended as the first thing we do in our day after waking, going to the toilet and having a warm drink. Our mind is more settled when we first wake up, and meditation in the morning can help set the direction for our day. Even starting with a 10 minute practice will make a difference to the calmness and clarity of your day.
An introductory meditation practice is focussing on your breath. Connect with your in-breath, the pause, your out breath and the pause prior to your next in-breath. It is often when we place our attention on the breath, unexpected thoughts pop up or we may notice a dull ache in one of our joints. We need to be compassionate with ourselves each time the mind wanders away from the breath, and gently replace our attention back on the breath. Venerable Päldron from the Kunsang Yeshe Retreat, suggests a way to acknowledge distraction without being consumed by it, is to say “thinking” and go back to your focus on the breath. You may like to join a class to assist your meditation practice.
Mindfulness is a practice that is ideally part of each moment in our day. Mindful living introduces activities that are useful for cultivating the practice of mindfulness and include mindful eating, focussing on a sensation during a routine task in the day e.g. the scent of the soap while you wash your hands or a sound that is present in your current environment, such as rainfall, wind or children playing, and pausing to focus on a view or piece of artwork. Mindfulness is something that we can all learn with patience and practice.