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Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a quality which is worthy of your intense attention. Without it, you drift through your life. With it, you can experience more joy and awareness than you would believe possible.

Mindful is defined as: “Having in mind; aware, heedful, or careful.”

Mindless is defined as: “Not using one’s mind; showing little or no intelligence or intellect; senseless or thoughtless; taking no thought; heedless or careless; unmindful.”

The first definition (Mindful) is informative, but the second definition (Mindless) comes closer by comparison to what can happen if one does not use Mindfulness.

You may ask: How does one begin to understand Mindfulness? The answer is quite simple: Stop and Breathe Deeply.

When one actually stops (as in sit down, make yourself comfortable, and begin to look around you), things change. You begin to see colors, shapes, and sizes. You become more aware of your surroundings. Use your eyes and really look at objects. Use your fingers and touch the cloth you are wearing, sense the hardness or softness of what you are sitting on, and reach out to touch things within reach. How do they feel? What do you smell? Is there some food cooking somewhere? Is there a sweet or a sour scent somewhere close by? What do you hear? Do you have some soft music on, or can you hear the children giggling as they play a game? Did you just eat something sweet or perhaps a piece of fruit? Can your taste buds still sense the tanginess of it? In other words, use your five senses to evaluate your surroundings.

Once you have done that, place one of your hands on your belly/stomach area and one on your chest. Close your eyes. Now breathe. If the hand on your chest is moving a lot more than the lower one, you know that you are not breathing in a good way. You are more subject to stress and a lot of other ills. If you are breathing like this, you need to relax your stomach/belly and expand it with the incoming breath, pulling it in as you breathe out. It may seem strange at first, but it is vital to your health to learn how to Breathe Deeply. Now try to slow your breath, breathe in as deeply as you can and slowly breathe out. Try to breathe out longer than you breathe in because it is getting rid of the carbon dioxide and impurities.

If you have tried these exercises, you have a new awareness of your surroundings. You can then begin to do it any time of day, anywhere, and under any circumstances. You can do it for just a breath or two, or as long as you please. You may find that colors become more vibrant, and your five senses will wake up to new levels of experience.

Mindfulness is a central theme to a movie I just watched titled, “Griffin and Phoenix.” It was a very interesting story about a man and a woman who find each other only after they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and do not have very long to live. Each one knows, looking back at their lives, how they worked and lived without being truly aware of anything. They find in each other  the ability to live with Mindfulness. They want to experience every day fully as they create memories together. She knows she will not live till Christmas comes again, and she loves Christmas and presents. At the end of the movie, he goes to a hardware store and buys whatever it takes to surprise her with a decorated Christmas tree in the woods, including batteries to light up the lights, and lots of presents. It was a very poignant story.

Mindfulness can become an important part of your day. Just the act of walking can activate many thoughts as you are aware of your space and others around you. Perhaps you may see other people differently because you are more aware of what you are saying and how you are saying it. That can cause a new interaction level which can be more pleasant, whether it be a small one with a store clerk, a coworker, a friend, or a loved one. It can make you more efficient at work because it is no longer a boring repetition, but your mind is actively creating — be it a work of art, a sentence, taking care of a customer, or just cleaning up a mess that a small child just made. Your life can change a lot. But first you must be willing to pay attention to the details of your life. Like a flower emerging from the snow, you can express more livingness and joy.

After all, it is your journey and your choice. Mindfulness is a mine filled with valuable treasures, but only you can use your focus to find them. Are you willing to do it?

God’s blessings on your journey!

Breathe

Breathe

Bless each day

Bless each day

Tulips in snow

Tulips in snow

Crocus in the Snow

Crocus in the Snow

Crocus in full bloom

Crocus in Full Bloom

Azaleas in bloom

Azaleas in Full Bloom

Having a Pity Party?

Pity Parties prevail, unfortunately. There are so many reasons to stay in one permanently. Would that do any good? Not likely.

In one of Og Mandino’s lectures, he said, “When I feel sorry for myself, and I don’t want to enter the world…I open the paper to the obituaries to see how many would trade places with me if they only could.”

Now that is definitely something to ponder.

He also said, “Never treat time as if you had an unlimited supply. No one has a contract with life.”

If you were to take a census of your prevailing attitudes, what would you say they were? If they center on a Pity Party, you have to know that direction will lead you nowhere. Are you willing to take a close look at the words you speak, the emotions you feel, and the ways you act? What is your body language saying? Can you look into a mirror and look closely at your eyes and your facial expression? What story are they telling you?

When you are depressed, one of the harder things you can do is to look into your eyes in a mirror and gaze upon your countenance. Why? Your eyes are downcast, for one thing. You are sad, your shoulders sag, and your head hangs down.

Did you know that depression is actually unexpressed anger turned inwards? Note I said, “Unexpressed.” I don’t mean you need to put your fist through a wall or hit something or somebody. There are many constructive ways to work on anger, such as working out, hitting a pillow, writing it all down on a sheet of paper and then shredding it, releasing it.

The point of a Pity Party is that you want to feel better. So, if you stay in one long enough, you should feel better, right? Nope, never going to happen. It perpetuates itself.

The only way to get out of a Pity Party is to change your focus from whatever is driving you crazy. You need to find something else to think about. Hopefully you will find something beautiful to contemplate, look at a rainbow, or listen to music. Many things can lift your spirit, from a good massage or warm bath to a quiet walk in nature. You just have to find something that works for you.

Again, it is in your capable hands to find a different way to express yourself. Are you willing to try that?

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