Holly Konrady, M.Ed., e-RYT500
Did you know that we are the only animal that can be doing one thing but thinking about something else? The human mind can be full of thoughts- past and future at any given moment- no matter what we are doing. Thoughts in the past may consist of regrets, failures, and grief. Thoughts in the future may consist of worry, fear, and anxiety. The result can be a lack of focus, forgetfulness, low quality sleep, substance abuse, relationship issues, and overall stress.
When doing a simple task like washing the dishes, your mind can be anywhere, and you can still accomplish this task. The opposite of this is mindful awareness which is being fully aware and tuned in to what is going on right now, in the present moment. In this dish washing example, you would be fully aware of how clean the dish is getting, how the water feels on your hands, and so on.
While remembering and thinking are important, the past and future can rob us of the present. We cannot be in both. Being mindful shows us present moment without judgement and with full acceptance of what is happening right now.
Being mindful is not easy because our minds wander. The wandering mind is also known as the “monkey mind” because your thoughts are like tree branches and a monkey in a tree jumps from one branch to the next very quickly.
We need awareness of the moment to know when we are not present and tools to draw us back. We can actually cultivate anchors or qualities of mindfulness throughout the day and night that help us to be present. This translates to being more engaged in any moment, feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling what is in the moment- listening better, comprehending and focusing more on what is actually happening- now.
Qualities of mindfulness include the practice of patience, trust, seeing for the first time, learning new things, letting go of what doesn’t serve you, accepting things as they are, observing, being more responsive versus reactive, kindness, going with the flow, being open, more compassionate, and non-harming of ourselves and others. You can cultivate mindfulness by choosing one quality and practice it for a day. Practice all of them and see how little by little you show up differently.
Lifetime habits have formed grooves in the mind so we get caught in patterns that may not serve us well. We begin to live in a sort of trance of our experience, which is not really present.
You can build your mindfulness muscle starting today. Choose a quality of mindfulness, focus on what you are doing in the moment.
In observance of International Yoga Day and the longest day of the year- both on June 21st, honor this thousands of year-old tradition by practicing mindfulness. Yoga means to unite or yoke- practice mindfulness by uniting your mind with the present moment.
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