Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in the present moment, and doing it intentionally with non-judgment. Mindfulness meditation practices refer to the deliberate acts of regulating attention through the observation of thoughts, emotions, and body states.
The concept of mindfulness was foreign to me prior to beginning my healing work. I had a habit of multitasking, my mind going in many different directions at once. It is no wonder much of my life flew by in a blur. I’m really not sure why I went from being such a contemplative child to a crazed adult, but I’m guessing I needed to be on that path in order to bring me to where I am now in life, which is one of slow-paced mindfulness.
Once I started to meditate and practice mindfulness, I began to see and hear things I had not noticed in the past. If I heard an unfamiliar bird’s song, I’d be drawn to finding that unique creature. I began looking at the land around me and noticing the diversity of colors and the contrast of the various landforms surrounding me. I began to be more aware of the ebb and flow of life and how it correlated to nature. I began to listen to the still small voice within.
I also started noticing people and how they moved and navigated through life. Several summers ago, while visiting my son in Connecticut, I spent five days of blissful mindfulness. I wrote, I painted, I contemplated life. My son was quite concerned. He encouraged me to explore New York City while he was at work. He suggested I spend the day visiting museums. To him, it appeared I was bored when actually I was more content than I had ever been. Practicing mindfulness in being rather than doing was not something he understood at that time.
In our fast-paced, multifunctioning world, it is a foreign concept to be mindful. We are such a production-driven society--always doing and rarely being--that being contemplative seems to be a waste of time. I’ve even witnessed trainers of the program, “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” living a life of constant doing, always on the move. Until now.
COVID-19, brought the entire world to a halt. Wait, is it possible? Indeed, it is. Throughout this pandemic, people from all over the world are experiencing what it is like to be still as many have been confined to their homes for several months. It is an uncomfortable, unfamiliar feeling to be present with only yourself and perhaps your loved ones. People are getting edgy and bored, anxious for things to get back to “normal” (living in the past). The media wants to keep us updated on current conditions, which can easily lead us into the “what-if’s” and making all kinds of assumptions (living in the future). We are all being called to be mindful and present with each choice and decision we make in this moment. We are called to live and enjoy this present moment. I turned to a message that came through when I was using my Lemon essential oil:
Enjoy life and all it brings to you! The pulsing vibrations you are experiencing come from lemon’s stimulating power. Remember to be present and alive in every moment. Too often humans walk through life unaware. Many are waking up, but not fully. The habit or pattern of doing things in a daze has become very strong. Even those who are “awake” slip into patterns of complacency. Be mindful of this! Bring my essence out periodically to help you remember to stay fresh and alive in every moment. Enjoy ALL of your experiences. Change your routine. Step out in nature when you wake up and before ending your day.
My family has a new routine in pandemic times. My son talks to me frequently these days. He shared with me his experience of gazing out the window while working from home. He noticed the variety of birds each day changed. He watched their mating routines and was fascinated by the rituals they go through. I have been able to manifest what I would consider my perfect day by starting my day in contemplation, tending to my gardens, observing the changes in nature as I have found more time to cycle and hike, and nourishing my body with a plant-based diet. When I get pulled into the frenzy of the happenings in the world, I turn to a simple mindfulness practice Thich Nhat Hanh shares in his book, Be Free Where You Are (Hanh, 2002). Thay, as his followers affectionately call him, is a Buddhist monk who has written many inspirational books. Here an excerpt:
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
Breathing in, I notice that my in-breath has become deeper.
Breathing out, I notice that my outbreath has become slower.
Breathing in, I calm myself.
Breathing out, I feel at ease.
Breathing in, I smile.
Breathing out, I release.
Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment.
Breathing out, I feel it is a wonderful moment.
In, Out; Deep, Slow;
Calm, Ease; Smile, Release;
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.
Now is the time to start fresh and to live from a place of mindfulness in every moment, enjoying every experience no matter how difficult or challenging it may seem. None of us can predict the future and we have never known how long we will be occupying this planet, so why not enjoy each moment we have been given?
When your day-to-day routine changes unexpectedly, are you able to relax into the flow?
Do you find yourself grasping onto memories from the past or feeling apprehensive about the uncertain future?
What shifts can you make to bring you back to your center?
“Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.”
L. Wolfe Gilbert