The Peace Within
Are you really here right now? Your body might be sitting in your chair, but where are you focusing your attention and awareness? When we are daydreaming, worrying or dwelling in the past, we are not truly present in the moment as our lives unfold around us. In this disconnected state, it becomes easy to identify with anxious and worried thoughts. The concept of mindfulness teaches us that fear and anxiety are not who we are, but are simply thoughts and feelings that flow in and out of each moment.
What is Mindfulness?
Jeffery Brantley, author of Calming the Anxious Mind, defines mindfulness as friendly, non-judging awareness of the present moment. Brantley also describes it as as paying attention on purpose. When we are being mindful, we notice all the sights and sounds around us, as well as our inner thoughts. It’s important to remember not to make judgments or identify with your thoughts, but simply acknowledge that they are there, and allow them to pass freely. Mindfulness is about letting go and allowing things to happen—it’s about being rather than doing.
My Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is simply taking special time out for you to practice being mindful. It’s important to note that mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, while sitting quietly, taking a walk or doing an activity such as yoga. In order to paint a clearer picture of mindfulness, I’d like to share my first experience trying it in my own life.
Night had just fallen, and I sat on my back porch and began to draw my attention to my senses. Sound was the most noticeable so I started there, listening to crickets, bullfrogs and the wind through the trees. The first problem I encountered was anxiety…thoughts like:
You’re doing it wrong, or This is never going to work.
As these thoughts crept in, I told myself:
These thoughts are happening…and its okay. They are just thoughts, they are not me.
That seemed to ease the anxiety a bit. My next issue was my mind wandering. I acknowledged this as well, and told myself
I am thinking, but I am still here.
I made sure to keep bringing my attention back to my senses in between thoughts. I watched the silhouettes of the trees dancing in the wind, the bright white moon being overlapped by dark purple clouds. I smelled the grass, the earth and the lilac bushes. I kept saying to myself
I am here.
The overall experience was very relaxing, but I was surprised at how difficult it was to maintain a mindful state. I encountered a lot of resistance from within, a strong urge to return to my habits of daydreaming and becoming lost in thought. It was intriguing to examine my thoughts from a new perspective—from a place of compassion and non-judgment. Although I still found myself anxious at times, my acceptance of it made me feel at peace.
Mindfulness allows us to connect with our lives in a new and intimate way. Paying gentle attention to our inner and outer surroundings enables us to savor life’s most precious and beautiful moments. It teaches us to be present in our own experience and keeps us from dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. More importantly, it shows us that past only exists in memory, and all we ever have is the present moment.