03 July 2012
I've read two books back to back about mindfulness and the benefits that it brings to our lives. I didn't necessarily choose to read them--they were both given to me by two different people, and since I try to go with the flow of life, I took the gifts as a message and read them both through all the way. Both of the authors explore the concept of being fully aware of our lives at all times, rather than taking things for granted, hurrying through our days, and not noticing the beauty and wonder all around us. If we can be mindful of our blessings and the beauty of the world and its people, we can enrich our lives incredibly--simply by noticing what's already there.
So many of our actions are rote actions, things that we do but hardly even notice. If we need to go to the store for milk, we very often take the car and expose ourselves only to parking lots, the car interior, and the store. We miss the fresh air, the flowers in the gardens that we could see on the way, and the sounds of the birds and people and animals who are living their lives so near us right now. If we have to do the dishes, we rush through the task without paying much attention, except maybe to make sure all the food is off the dishes before we rinse them. If we have to shower, then we do so quickly, treating it as a task to be accomplished rather than a unique experience.
To be mindful takes a bit more time than it takes not to be mindful. When we're mindful, when we pay attention to the people and things around us, it's much harder to hurry past them and miss them. It takes a bit of work to be mindful, too, for we have to concentrate harder and maintain our focus--that usually doesn't just happen. But these are very, very small prices to pay for the ability actually to see the world around us, to wonder at it, to appreciate it, to notice its intricacy and complexity and beauty.
As Christina Feldman says, "The richest, deepest moments of our lives have all been moments of mindfulness--the moments in our childhood when our hearts sang with delight over the simple arrangement of the pebbles on the path, the moments when we have stood speechless before the majesty of a forest, the moments we have rejoiced in a sunset, the moments when we have been a silent, listening presence with a friend in pain." These moments aren't accidents, but they are far too scarce for most of us. Let's bring more of them into our lives through a bit of concentration and effort, so that we can enrich our lives greatly!