Saturday, April 5, 2008

Balance and Mindfulness

I have been making an effort to be mindful in my life, waking up as Eckhart Tolle says to The Power of Now. Being present as much as possible to what is happening with me, right now, helps me be more in touch with how I feel, teaches me who I am, gives me tools for knowing what steps to take next, because I am paying attention to the details.

I was discussing this with my sweetie this morning after listening to Tolle's newest book A New Earth. Is being mindful and present something one strives to do 24/7? If so, how does one manage all the pieces of life? If I am focused right now on this, then what happens to all the other pieces of my life? I believe that since we are multi-faceted Beings, then we are capable of being present to the totality of our lives, being present to what is in the broader perspective and so can manage them all on a rotating basis.

After this discussion I took my morning walk. I noticed things I hadn't noticed before, even though I've walked this path many many times. Some were things that were always there, a stone paved walk in someone's yard, the shape and form of a tree in another. Some were new and specific to this walk such as the wild turkeys who often show up on the golf course. At one point I glimpsed them in a backyard and said hello to them. On my way back they were walking the street in front of me, four of them gobbling along. They made me laugh. Was I totally mindful and present in every moment of my 50 minute walk? No, at times I was thinking of something I was going to do when I got home, at times I was noticing the sidewalk in front of me.

I believe as in many things, and as I have blogged about before, it is about balance. If I am mindful for the most part in things I do, say and think, I will be able to be the mindful observer of my life, ever seeing and feeling where to make adjustments, ever aware of my feelings, and ever alive and tuned in to what is happening in my life. Contrarily, going about my tasks on auto pilot, full of things to be done with no awareness of what is happening around me or in me, I have lost my sense of self.

Here are some thoughts for becoming more aware and mindful in your daily life.

1. Find a practice to do every day that gets you into a mindful state. You can take a walk and focus on being mindful of your thoughts, mindful of what you see, mindful of what you hear, or doing yoga or some other practice.

2. Practice doing an ordinary activity you do every day in a mindful way, such as eating. Ask yourself what you are wanting to eat and fix yourself that meal with love. Get creative with it and don't stop until you hit "yummy"! This morning I mixed chopped apples with granola, cinnamon and brown sugar and warmed it up. Focus on eating each bite with mindfulness of what you taste, what you feel. I tasted the warm, sweet cinnamony apples, with some crunch from the granola. I felt warmed, nourished and realized how much I like eating different tastes and textures together.

3. Be mindful and present when communicating with people, whether on the phone or in person. It's so easy to get distracted and it's normal. If you notice that you are, pull yourself back to the conversation. It's interesting to notice how much more I get from conversations when I'm focusing in that manner and I think my loved ones feel more heard.

4. Use this tool when you feel overwhelmed: take a moment to sit quietly, breathe gently and be present. I have started making a list in the morning of my To Do items. Just writing it down takes it out of the buzzy place in my brain and puts it in the do-able place on my list. Then I challenge myself to accomplish 3. (Don't put down something like clean out the garage, but do-able- in -the- day tasks). I reward myself after doing them by taking time out to talk with my sweetie, read or some other fun! (very important!) activity.

5. Remember there is no right way or wrong way to do this (or anything else as far as I'm concerned!) Practicing an awareness of the concept is a great place to start and none of us will ever be perfect at it. It's a journey, and it's supposed to be fun.

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