After you read the blog - be sure to review the Mindful Living tips, check out the guided meditation and answer the prompts in the Reflect & Journal section.
One of life’s greatest challenges is to live in our ever-changing world with a sense of clarity in our minds and calmness in our bodies. We cannot control or change the way our lives have been disrupted by the pandemic, technology, racism, war and climate disasters. However, we do have the capacity to make skillful choices about the way we respond and navigate life’s experiences.
That’s why I want to share the insights I have collected around watering the seeds of mindfulness. Ultimately, my decision was spurred by a desire to find a way to live with Lupus with more ease and balance when I hit my pain threshold and was desperate to make a change. I chose the path of mindfulness and have found the tools and practices transformative for my mental, emotional and physical health.
My favorite definition of mindfulness comes from Jack Kornfield. He describes it as the “innate human capacity to deliberately pay full attention to where we are, to our actual experience, and to learn from it. There is space for our joys and sorrows, our pain and losses, all to be held in a peaceful way.”
As mindfulness is applied in everyday life, we recognize that living in the moment is the only moment that we have to live the best version of ourselves. That’s because we have a choice. We can be mindful and experience the fullness of the moment, seeing it through a fresh lens. Or we can be mindless, remaining committed to our habitual actions, ruminating thoughts and past stories. To illustrate this point, I am lulled to sleep most nights by the foghorns of the San Francisco bay. I could either go to bed feeling annoyed by these sounds or I could deliberately pay attention to the majestic tones and the calming effects they have, which change from night to night. The same goes with the morning fog. When I wake up, it is usually rolling in or out. I could be annoyed by the absence of the sun or I could deliberately pay attention to the beauty of the fog. Both the foghorns and the fog have become symbolic of a mindfulness practice to me. Both are constantly changing, just as our thoughts, feelings, sensations, relationships, triumphs and failures change from moment to moment.
It’s no wonder mindfulness is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. It’s such a powerful choice that optimizes internal and external peace. With a myriad of scientific research demonstrating its positive benefits, such as decreased stress, anxiety and depression, it’s definitely worth our attention. Beyond an intellectual understanding of mindfulness, there is the formal practice of meditation. It requires intentionally carving time out of your day to slow down, be still and settle the mind. The guided practices you find here begin by bringing your attention to the mind-body connection in the present moment through the use of your breath—without grasping onto judgments and negative self-talk.
Mindfulness practice invites you to see and accept your experience just as it is, while leaning into it with compassion for yourself, others and your surroundings. With time and practice, we learn to accept the many emotions and situations that take place in a typical day and embrace them as separate from our identity.
Taking it a step further, consider a society built on soil that is nourished from the seeds of mindfulness—one where all humans deliberately choose to live in the present moment and be accountable for their words and actions with compassionate understanding and sensitivity. How does that make you feel in your body, heart and mind?
If you’re curious and feel motivated, try the tips below.