Lately I’ve been giving some thought to mindfulness, the practice of living in the present.
Mindfulness has its roots in the teachings of the Eastern philosophers who write about life as a journey of learning and discovery. There are many formal programs that are based on those beliefs, including the practice of yoga.
Mindfulness means “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens…. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we're sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”
So I sometimes think about how much time I spend trying to remember what I had and how it was. Trying to hold on to the things that defined my life - things that I associate with happier times. Then I look around and realize that there are people who can’t seem to get over what was a difficult time in their lives.
The first time I attended a bereavement group, I found people who were still actively mourning several years after their loss. I was disheartened to think that grief would be an active part of my life for years to come.
To some degree living in the past is natural, it can give us joy to remember happy times; growing up in a loving home, attending school and enjoying the pleasures of youth and discovery, learning to live life on our own. I’ve noticed how common it is for older people to want to talk about the past; reminisce about happier times, remembering a simpler life. I believer that some of that is the result of not actively thinking about the life that you now have and the things in your life that currently give you joy or at least give you reason to face the new day with some optimism.
Sometimes, we seem to just want to focus on what might be ahead for us and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I can remember, as a young married couple how much we looked forward to the things we had planned for ourselves; a family, a house, trips. Things that we couldn’t do at the moment but we understood could happen in the future. These are natural and part of an evolution through life that we can look forward to.
So what about this mindfulness? What about it can help us live life more fully and with less stress? Perhaps it’s the notion of just getting through each day with the intention of enjoying what we have and what we can do. With that mindset, hopefully we can focus on enjoying our current life and improve our current state of mind.
I understand that there are elaborate programs out there that help people understand the concept of mindfulness and teach how to make it a part of your life. I’m not necessarily interested in joining a group right now, or delving into the philosophical underpinnings of the process, I’m just interested in trying to make my life more in the present so that I can enjoy what I have now. Someone described it as being much more involved with the simple, ordinary things that you do and the resulting feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction with you current life.
I’m going to try to be more mindful; be more aware of how fortunate I am as compared to others who have difficult burdens to carry. I think this mindset can also be translated into how you think of your life in the context of religion; you realize you have more to be thankful for than you have to ask for.
Seems to me It’s worth the effort.
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