Mindfulness = Presence = Awareness
Mindfulness is the gateway to presence: the state of being and living in the present moment. Mindfulness, or being mindful, is being aware of your present moment. You are not judging, reflecting, or thinking. You are simply observing the moment – this present moment in which you find yourself.
Mindfulness involves bringing our awareness back from the past or the future into the present moment. By residing more frequently in the present moment, we can begin to see both the inner and outer aspects of our reality. While reflecting internally, we can see that our mind is continually chattering with commentary, judgments, and random thoughts. By noticing that our mind is continually active, we have the ability to observe carefully those thoughts, seeing them for what they are without aversion or judgment. Be aware of the voices in your head—the conditioned thought processes that run 24/7/365 ad infinitum.
When we practice mindfulness, we can realize that “thoughts are just thoughts.” We are free to release a thought just by letting it go. We realize that the thought may not be based in reality, an absolute truth, or even be one with which we agree. Thus, we are free to observe life without being caught in commentary and mind chatter. We may hear the many voices or messages speaking to us within our mind. It is important to be aware that the messages we hear during “thinking” may not be accurate or helpful, but rather may be translations of, or departures from, truth or someone else’s truth altogether.
I have found these following five ways to be more mindful in my day-to-day living. These tips will help you develop your mindfulness-muscles. The better and easier you can drop into being mindful, the more the present moment will offer you its deeper benefits.
- The easiest way to become mindful or present is by paying attention to your breath. If we can continue to come back to our breath, which always is occurring in the here and now, we will be drawn immediately into the present. Moments are like breaths. Each breath is replaced by the next breath. You are there with no other purpose other than being awake and aware of that moment. If you start by being aware of your breath, and letting go of all other thoughts at that moment, your mind and body chatter decreases. Compare our moments, breaths, to the ocean and the waves. They continue to come and disappear, to be followed by another and another and another. They come; they disappear. You will also dissipate any stress that has built up in your body just by focusing on your breath.
- Have a physical object to remind you to become present right now. Something that you have assigned meaning to, such as a bracelet, ring, or an object you have on your tabletop or in a pocket that just seeing or touching it is like your own personal ‘alarm-clock’ to remember to be present.
- Pay attention to your thoughts. Sit quietly and just observe your thoughts and any feelings they arouse. See your thoughts coming into your awareness as if they were clouds passing overhead, moving from left to right, and then out of range. Just be aware of all the random thoughts popping into your minds-eye, and do not judge or mentally comment on any of them. Just observe, and over time you see these thoughts will slow down or diminish as your awareness expands.
- When you are sitting, either at your desk or even while eating, simply slow down and pay deep attention to what your body is experiencing at that moment. Notice any sensations, discomforts, or temperature variations. Notice what’s coming through your senses, to scents, tastes, sounds, to the textures, and to what is received via your eyes. Just pay attention to all of it without judgement. Try to be like a child with a ‘curiosity mindset,’ just witness what you are experiencing.
- Get into nature. One of the fastest ways to collect yourself and be more mindful and present is to get outside. Take a walk, sit on an outdoors bench, look at a beautiful scene, and listen to the sounds of nature. Any way you can connect to nature do so, and you will find a quick way to just stop, pause, and be open to what is happening right before you in the here and now.
Any activity done mindfully is a form of meditation, and mindfulness is possible practically all the time. All that is required is that we become the observer of our thoughts and feelings. It is almost like stepping just outside yourself enough to be able to turn your attention back around to see your thoughts and feelings without reaction or criticism. When we can take a moment and observe ourselves having a thought, then we are in the present moment. When present and mindful, we can choose to look at our past thoughts differently in the here-and-now. We may also choose to change the way we are anticipating the future by changing our thoughts about it right now. We have all the power, not our thoughts, and the only power we ever have is right here and now, with us, in this very moment.
Mindfulness is an activity that can be done at any time. It does not require sitting, or any special process, but rather it is done by bringing the mind to focus on what is happening in the present moment, while simply noticing the mind’s usual “commentary.” Mindfulness is becoming aware of the sensations in our bodies, of the sounds around us, or sensing the presence of others close by. We can also be mindful of our mind’s chatter. Once we notice our thoughts, we can choose to stop identifying with them and their judgments and perceptions. We can choose to think another thought and if that does not serve us, choose again, and again.
The benefits of mindfulness are infinite. As we more closely monitor our thinking, we can find that happiness is not exclusively a quality brought about by a change in outer circumstances, but rather our happiness often starts with loosening and releasing attachment to our thoughts, predispositions, and scripts, thereby releasing automatic reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant situations or feelings. Mindfulness, presence, leads us easily to choose happiness in any moment desired. And when we find ourselves in more positive states we are also more insightful, creative, adaptive, open, compassionate, empathetic, and easily connected to others and things around us.
Presence is the condition where we know truth, right from wrong, and what to do or not to do. Presence is the power of creation, of manifestation, of successful problem-solving and conflict resolution. Presence causes ALL transformations.
Invite the stillness of presence into your life. Allow yourself time to access the higher power we all possess and have access to whenever we become mindful.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.
When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh