Are You Mindful and Aware?
BY ANNIE MOORE
We are often being told that being mindful keeps us in the present moment.
But are we told that being aware is also being mindful? When you're aware you are really looking and observing without judgement. You are surveying with focus on everythng around you and before you in a single moment.
It is very desirable to be mindful because it involves being alert and open to new experiences. The great thing is that mindfulness is detached ~ you are open to the present moment but are not attached to any outcome that you either want or fear.
The big question is: How do you remind yourself to be mindful all the time, every day, when you know you are constantly drifting away from the present moment? Clearly mindfulness is the very state you are not in.... A bit like saying to yourself "Don't foget to remember".
There is a way to get past this obstacle. It involves the action of noticing. This is where your mind can truly help you, as it's designed to notice things all the time, by sending signals to your brain.
When you meet a friend in a cafe you ignore the other people around and focus on noticing your friend. You flick a switch and pay close attention to your friend.
There are three simple steps you can adopt immediately to help bring you back to the present.
1. Notice when you feel distracted, stressed, angry, anxious, or out of sync.
2. Pause. Whatever you are about to say or do, whatever reaction you are in the middle of, just back away from it.
3. Put your attention in the middle of your chest in the region of the heart, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths until you return to the situation with a clear mind.
It is also helpfull to be aware that we actually live two lives: one life we live is dwelling in our thoughts and the other life dwells within our experience of the present moment.
I feel the key here is to work on decreasing our thoughts, so that our experience of the present moment can dominate. Once we have learnt how to balance our thoughts with the present moment, the glorious feeling of freedom will joyfully dance through.
But learning to bring yourself into the present, so that it becomes sustainable to live in the here and now is tricky when your 'monky mind' is constantly chatting.
You may be saying to yourself. "I so wish my brain would stop, but it goes on all the time worrying about stuff". Or "There is not a single moment in the day when I have no thoughts"... Are these comments resonating with you?
But for those of us who do notice the absence of thoughts we would say "That is when I'm at peace". Or "When I relax and meditate, my mind is resting". "It's such a great feeling".
It seems that many people more than ever now through these challenging times are thinking most of the time. But I'm pretty sure they would like to be thinking less.
So the biggest challenge here is to able to empty your thoughts and become more aware of the present.
Here is a simple exercise you can do each morning in the quiet of your own home.
Find a space to sit alone in front of a window or outside in the garden.
Look around you or out of the window and slowly begin to observe what you see.
Notice what you hear close to you and then in the distance.
Notice the smells in the air around you.
Observe your hands lightly resting in your lap.
Become aware of the taste in your mouth.
Then rest with your breath in the awareness of your senses.
Having your attention on what's happening around you is a choice you make about where you are putting your attention. If you choose to have your attention on thoughts, then these will remain dominant, which will then conceal what is happening around you.
Alternatively if your attention is purely noticing the things around you, then these things will predominate, which in turn obscures your thoughts.
This exercise combined with regular meditation can help shift the balance from living your life "in your head" to living your life in awareness of the present moment.
All you need to do is commit to sitting each day and simply allow yourself to rest with your breath and become more familiar with the silence and stillness that lingers on.
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Annie is the founder of Moorwellbeing UK and Yoga Retreats in Portugal, with years of experience in leading yoga and meditation, classes, courses, workshops and retreats.
Annie is qualified in Hatha Yoga based practices and Yin Yoga disciplines with training through Yoga Alliance, The British School of Yoga and The Centre of Excellence.
Contact Annie firstname.lastname@example.org