You don’t instantly become a master at being mindful, although it can be learned over night. The art of mindfulness is practiced and strengthened and mastered over a lifetime.
The first time I learned to be mindful was on my yoga mat. Learning to connect to the present moment through deep breathing. At the time I had no idea what being mindful was. I was a 23 year old girl who needed to keep her mind off an ex and yoga worked pretty well. Yoga took me out of my thoughts and made me pay attention to how I was feeling; the sensations in my body. Through yoga I built up a practice of deep meditation. But as soon as I left the mat my awareness also stopped.
It wasn’t for a year or two into my yoga journey that mindfulness seemed to be a word buzzing around me. When I heard the word,I had no idea what it meant. I soon discovered the true meaning of being mindful. To be mindful was to bring your awareness to the present moment. It was taking the deep meditation I learned on the yoga mat and putting it into everything I did. I would notice my mind constantly drifting. I was missing out on what was happening right in front of me. I would worry and think about things I had no control over.
Through great teachers, I learned the only thing I could control was the present moment. To get myself back to the present moment I would use breath work. I would remind myself I could only control what was happening right in front of me. Worrying about my todo list wasn’t going to get it done. The only thing to help get it done would we to take actions in the present moment and if I couldn’t, accept what that present moment had to offer me.
Through reading ‘The Living Clearly method’ I learned tools on how to harness my awareness in the moment. The first time I used mindfulness tools was ironically on a Wawa run for cigarettes. At the time I was a smoker; smoking almost a pack a day. I’d be at the store almost every other day. It was a chore for me, in and out. While I was in the store I’d either be on my phone or in my own thoughts not paying attention to anything or anyone. So on this Saturday morning I decided I was going to bring my awareness into the store with me. I was present to what was happening around me. For the first time I was outside my head observing what was going on around me using deep breathing. Breathing deep is what brings you into the moment once your mind wonders, your breath brings you back. My choir now becoming an enjoyable experience. Listening to jokes being told and see smiling faces. The connection is what I was missing before this experience.
Smoking cigarettes was the only time before reading ‘The Living Clearly Method’ I was mindful of the moment l was in. Smoking cigarettes made me slow down and really enjoy that moment. It’s sad to say. There was nothing I enjoyed more than smoking a cigarette. Yes I knew how unhealthy smoking was but I was addicted. I tried to quit almost every Monday for five years. But until I learned how to live in the present moment nothing helped. I quit smoking through mindfulness.
Your brain tells you to want a cigarette and until you smoke that cigarette. Your brain does not let you forget. That was always my issue. I couldn’t get over the thought I needed a cigarette. Until I learned to control my thoughts with mindfulness. Instead of thinking, I was able to focus on what was happening around me. I was able to focus on the sounds I was hearing, the smells and the vibes I was feeling in the room. This helped focus and tell my brain I did not need a cigarette. I would also drink tea. That help too because tea you have to drink slow. It slowed me down and I focused on the way the tea felt as I drank it. The warm sensations were just as satisfying as a pull of a cigarette.Quitting smoking was only two months into practicing mindfulness. That’s when I had realized how powerful this practice was.
Capturing the moment is all we have. We do not have the future, it hasn’t happened. The past is already gone. If we don’t have the present moment Then what do we have? Little by little you can become an expert. The benefits of living in the moment are the greatest gifts you can give yourself.