Living mindfully means to be completely in touch and aware of the present moment and what you’re doing in it. It’s awareness without judgment, accepting your current moment for exactly what it is. It means that, for example, when you eat, you’re only eating. You’re completely immersed in the process. You’re not gulping down your food, barely tasting it, while thinking of the twenty things you need to do before you go to bed. Mindfulness is about appreciating and living in every moment as it occurs. It’s the ultimate cure for the monkey mind.
And it’s not easy.
It’s a little like living in Vipassana meditation. In Vipassana, you sit, breathe deeply and still your mind. You’re reaching for peace of mind, an emptying out of thought, but when you have a thought, (and you will unless you’re a yogi), you don’t berate yourself for it. You note it by thinking, ‘thought’ and then let it go. Or if you have a pain in your leg, you think ‘pain’ and let it go. You never judge yourself for these distractions and you always bring yourself back to center.
Living mindfully has always reminded me of this type of meditation. It’s like meditation in the moment…every single moment.
I started down this path in my early twenties, over ten years now. My life has changed a lot since then. I have a career as a writer with deadlines (sometimes multiple deadlines) and promotion to do. I became a mother. My daughter has grown up and I now have to run her to preschool, playgroup, ballet (maybe gymnastics soon). I have an ailing grandmother to visit weekly, and a father and stepmother to visit weekly. A house to keep clean. Grocery shopping. Cooking. You know how it is.
My life is more than mindful, it’s simply FULL, sometimes to overflowing.
I’m not complaining. I’m incredibly lucky and wouldn’t have it any other way. And if I rarely have time to devote to my once religious formal sitting meditation practice, I have living mindfully–meditation all the time. One day I know my daughter will be older and I’ll have time to meditate again, but I’m not pushing for her to grow up. Instead I’m savoring her younger years and letting things be what they are.
That’s not to say I manage mindfulness all the time. Yeah, I wish. Sometimes I become overwhelmed, impatient, irritated and locked in that OMG-I-have-to-get-this-this-and-this-done stressful monkey brain place. But when that happens, I take a deep breath. I hear the sounds around me. I feel my feet in my shoes and my clothes against my skin. I smell the scent of whatever is there in that moment. I don’t judge myself for the distraction.
I simply bring myself back to center.
For me, it’s not just a stress reduction (and it is a great one), it’s a way of life. A method of living I strive for every day. It’s not easy, but it works for me.