“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.” Paying attention to what’s around us and finding peace and joy, particularly in these challenging times, has never been so important. That’s mindfulness, I’ve blogged about it many times before.
As we adjust to a new way of being, mindfulness could be described as a way of befriending ourselves and our experience and feeling into life as it is, moment by moment.
It’s the ability to stay in the present, even amid the incessant mental chatter, in a world that’s been turned on its heels. I remember another time when my world was rocked.
Back in May 2015, when my beautiful mum was battling the ill effects of brain surgery, I signed up for my first Mindful in May. At this incredibly stressful time it helped ground me and gave me some strength and coping skills.
Mindful in May is back this year. This month long global meditation challenge, founded by Dr Elise Bialylew, focuses on cultivating the power of mindfulness. With guided daily meditations, and more than ten interviews with highly respected authors, health professionals and experts in the field it’s a perfect opportunity for self exploration.
The modest registration fee goes towards providing fresh drinking water for communities in third world countries.
Fast forward to 2020 and the world has never needed it more. Not just fresh water for underprivileged countries but compassion, kindness and an acceptance and willingness to just “be” without needing to understand.
So what IS mindfulness?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who Elise interviews, defines mindfulness as the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non judgementally.
Or more simply, being here now, with an attitude of openness, curiosity and kindness.
What a wonderful habit to cultivate. For me personally, I’ve often struggled to incorporate consistent meditation in my life. As fate would have it, at the last minute I was gifted a registration and suddenly found myself immersed.
The Universe has a funny way of knowing what we need and delivering it to us.
I used to think that meditation was sitting and trying to block out thoughts. I now understand it’s giving ourselves the grace to allow those thoughts to come through, not fighting or resisting them, but being aware of them and then letting them go.
As well as showing up for the meditations, either early morning or at night, and listening to the audios I’m trying to incorporate mindfulness more fully into my days.
I walk every day and love being outside. It feels like a meditation as I breath in fresh air, the coolness of Autumn mornings, with the breeze on my cheeks and the occasional warmth of sunshine caressing my back.
I notice the miracles of nature, from the smallest mushroom to the grandest tree. I smell the scent of the season and hear the whispers of the breeze. When I pass other walkers we smile and I feel the kinship of humanity.
Jon Kabat-Zinn says it so well. “Life itself becomes a meditation practice, not just sitting on our butt. It’s called wakefulness.”
There’s mindfulness in movement, not just in every day walking, but in dance and music where we can let ourselves go. I’m enjoying occasional online Zumba classes with people getting together and moving in sync with the music. Sometimes that’s when I tune out the most and thoughts fade, as I lose myself in the music.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky”.
It’s when we sit still that our mind really wanders. Constantly, every second of every day. But that’s the art of being mindful.
When we notice we can bring it back to the present, gently, kindly and without judging, kind of like training a new puppy. Over and over again, cultivating gentleness and patience.
Anyone can be mindful in May and June, July and beyond, for that matter. Registrations close on 11th May but if you miss the official challenge, why not start your own practice at home.
We’re all in this together, this great big crazy ride we’re on, and we can start today to see the world in a new light.
Let’s turn fear into faith and angst into amazement.
Whilst we all want a return to normality, however that may look, we can use this gift of time to train our mind to be calm and to raise our human consciousness.
Whether you’re sitting in stillness and silence or moving mindfully, pay attention to those ordinary moments and listen deeply to the unfolding of your own life.
Let’s hope that being Mindful in May becomes the beginning of the mindset of a lifetime.
Stay well, safe and present. Life is precious, it’s not always easy but it’s a gift and it’s here to be lived.
In love and light.
“Rather than be disheartened by the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it. What if we said “yes, this is the way it is: this is what it means to be human” and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride.” Pema Chodron