Over the last few days I have read quite a few articles or blog posts that mention mindfulness. I have been practicing meditation for many years and have no doubt in my mind - and in my experience - that it has an amazing healing benefit.
Despite this I often find myself doing other things, rather than taking the time to sit and go within.
One thing I have found easier to make time for is to practice truly *being* in the moment . Throughout the day I practice being fully present in a moment. You don't need to close you eyes - it could be washing up.
Actually observe all the sensations. The feel of the water and the items you are washing, the sights you see - the pattern on the plates ( I am collecting lovely patterned plates from charity shops ) are you at the window - maybe you see birds, f lowers, rain. Notice the smell of the washing liquid - you could have a scented candle or incense burning whilst you are doing it. The sounds that are happening around you - it might be the sounds of the household or it might be a soothing, calming Cd put on whilst you wash up. Thoughts might come in - I don't try to push them away, I simply acknowledge them and say to myself - I will think about it later and bring my mind gently back to the moment.
It doesn't need to be a long time, I do it whenever I remember throughout the day in many different situations - I am doing it now :-)) Actually live in the moment, instead of rushing through to get on with the next thing. The weird thing is - by taking the time to slow down - you actually find you have more time and mangage to fit in all the things you want to do!
The more I do it, the more I remember to do it .
The following is taken from this page.
7 Holistic Benefits of Mindfulness
"Miracle is not to walk on water. Miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is the gift of Buddha to the mankind 2500 years ago. Mindfulness is the English word trying to indicate the meaning of “Sati”, a word from the Pali language, spoken by the Buddha. Other words pointing to the sense of “Sati” are attention, awareness, conscious awareness, presence of mind, present centeredness, etc. However, the only way to comprehend the real meaning of mindfulness is to practice mindfulness meditation.
It is Sati or mindfulness that provided the foundation of the practice of Vipassana meditation that transformed an ordinary human, Price Siddharth Gautam, into a Buddha – an absolutely pure and enlightened being. So the practice of mindfulness has actively existed throughout the centuries among the true disciples of Budhha, although the West began taking interest in it only in recent decades after seeing its potential in psychotherapies.
Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. When practiced in the form of Vipassana meditation it leads to development of insight – reason why Vipassana meditation is also called insight meditation. Here “insight” means experiential understanding of one’s own being.
The practice of mindfulness, say through Vipassana meditation, helps you develop the following seven basic mental qualities that provide foundation for insight.
1. Being Non Judgmental
Mindfulness involves becoming an impartial witness (an observer) of the ever-flowing stream of experience – inner as well as outer – and of the ways you habitually react to everything. You train not to get involved in what is going on. This mental attitude of a witness helps correct the usual, and almost automatic, habit of labeling every experience. If there is pleasant feeling associated with an experience it is labeled good and if unpleasant, bad. All this labeling comes from the past learning, memories and experiences. When you train not to label you automatically keep the influence of past away.
Mind has a tendency to lean towards learned habitual patterns – some of which may be counterproductive or limiting. The practice of mindfulness involves becoming aware of the process of experiencing as it is happening right now, and it is done from the attitude of non-judgmental exploration. Hence it is ideal for discovering conditioned patterns. This gives you freedom and space to adjust your conditioned behavior and attitudes. The practice of mindfulness is truly unique in helping you break bad habits.
Just think about it: You are not a judge appointed by some divine order, so why don’t you stop judging everybody – including yourself?
mindfulness, being an art of seeing things as they actually are, helps you accept yourself as you are – with all your shortcomings and vulnerabilities. When you deny or resist certain realities of your being you not only waste a lot of energy but you also create internal tension. Likewise when you try to distort certain realities just to make yourself look better you create illusions that only entangle your mind.
Acceptance in true honesty is the first step towards change – it is also an integral part of healing. When there is healing there is change – for the better.
Just think about it: Why can’t you accept yourself as you are – what is the problem?
Mindfulness invites you to embrace all your experience unfolding in the present moment, regardless of whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. Although challenging, it also relieves you from all that habitual analyzing and resolving as well as rationalizing and manipulating. Being in intimate contact with experience (as opposed to thinking about experience) by actually feeling the sensations as they manifest within the body, you develop a sense of gentle compassion and a willingness to forebear all your internal distress, fear and anguishes.
Since you begin to accept yourself with all your shortcomings, you also become more accepting and tolerant towards others. Now you are more compassionate and less critical towards everyone.
Just think about it: Only a strong mind can be compassionate to its own vulnerabilities.
4. Letting go
An essential element of the practice of mindfulness is non-attachment – you merely watch your thoughts, feelings and situations. You try not to connect to them whether through liking or through disliking. Normally you try to hold on to certain pleasant feelings and want to get rid of those that are unpleasant. But when you train mindfully to stay detached, you let every perception – thoughts, feelings or emotions – pass. So the art of letting go is built into the practice of mindfulness – you don’t have to make any extra effort to let go of things that you always wanted to but could not. Mindfulness does it all almost effortlessly.
Training in mindfulness makes the meaning of “letting go” very explicit – the only thing you actually want to “let go” is your conditioned tendency to hold on to the pleasant and avoid the unpleasant. With further practice you also begin to see how this tendency perpetuates your difficulties.
Just think about it: A weak mind wants to cling to everything – either through attachment or through aversion.
Patience is a form of wisdom to realize that things take their own time to unfold. Becoming impatient does not move things faster – only you become miserable and make yourself irritable to others. Mindfulness trains you to acknowledge and stay with the tendency of impatience. It helps to calm the agitated mind when you know that you can’t rush. If you have done everything you could do then why impatience – result is bound to come.
“O time! Thou must untangle this, not I; It is too hard a knot for me to untie!” – Twelfth Night
Just think about it: The world does not revolve around your wishes. So why not do your best and let the fruits come when the time is ripe?
6. Non Striving
Mindfulness encourages you to be who you are – it focuses on “being” rather than “doing”. In normal living you think that you have to react to everything in order to achieve something, which in not necessarily true. Now you focus on the process of observing reality as it is unfolding every moment as opposed to looking for some progress or result. The very act of searching for progress implies dissatisfaction with the current situation.
The apparently simple act of “being”, rather than struggling against the reality, provides a peaceful way of living that allows new possibilities to emerge. It also creates an increasing sense of ease with the way things are.
Just think about it: Can you really be someone other than who you actually are?
7. Mental Clarity
Practice of mindfulness trains you to stay with a sense of exploration as if you are seeing everything for the first time. You stay alert with the attitude “Let me see what come up next”. You view every thought or feeling with a sense of exploration and discovery without being biased by the past experiences, preconceptions or cluttered thinking.
It allows you to see issues, events and problems in new ways and as a result, many things get resolved on their own as you withdraw your emotional involvement.
Just think about it: How often have you wished to have a clear mind so that you could concentrate and do things reflecting your full abilities?