“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The art of mindfulness requires you to be fully present in any activity – the mundane tasks of a daily routine like pouring your morning cup of coffee, a household chore like washing the dinner dishes, or listening to your spouse talk about her day at work.
Mindfulness allows us to embrace the time-consuming activities, enjoy the little moments, and practice focusing our attention. At the core of Buddhist teachings, the practice of mindfulness has been linked to happiness and health. Through mindfulness, the stresses of everyday life become easier to manage.
Studies show that our minds and bodies directly benefit from practicing mindfulness – a psychological state of awareness where we shift our perceptions and concentrate on how we react to our experiences. The more mindful we become, the more tools we add to our resiliency toolbox, including compassion, acceptance, openness, and creativity (Dr. Lynda Klau, This Emotional Life).
We live in a fast-paced, chaotic world, where it’s not easy to stop, think, breathe, think about breathing, or breathe without thinking. We multi-task in order to balance family life and work life. We listen to music, while walking our dog, while chewing gum, while taking a photo, while posting a status update, while chatting with a friend, while checking our email, while crossing the road. You get the idea. And that’s just in our personal lives.
Even at work, we divide our attention and do two things (or three or four things) at once in order to meet deadlines. The workload piles on. To-do lists grow longer. Stress increases. We are distracted. We are constantly in motion. We are habitually bogged down, overworked, rushed, anxious, frazzled, and exhausted.
It’s time to be still and dip into the pool of mindfulness.
In the book 5-minute Mindfulness, Dr. David Dillard-Wright identifies some of the most effective mindfulness tools:
- Tai Chi
- Deep breathing
- Music therapy
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
*Activity: Practice mindfulness with this breathing exercise. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Inhale, and breathe in what you need in your life. Exhale, and breathe out what no longer serves you (Dillard-Wright 10).
Breathe in love; exhale loneliness.
Breathe in courage; exhale fear.
Breathe in patience; exhale irritability.
Learn how you currently practice mindfulness and how you can improve your practice by taking the Mindfulness Quiz through the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California in Berkeley. The quiz draws on a mindfulness scale developed by researchers at La Salle University and Drexel University.
In the comments, feel free to share your results from the Mindfulness Quiz.