What is your mind full of now? This is a good question that can help you learn to be present in the moment, because in the moment you have everything you need. Sometimes when we take the time to stop and notice, we realize the thoughts we are thinking are driving us in the opposite direction of the one we would choose to go if we were more aware. Mindfulness practice has many health benefits and is growing in popularity as our culture continues to amp up on speed and multi-tasking. Mindfulness is simply the practice of being aware of what is happening in the moment without judgment. The awareness is the easy part. The without judgment is where the true work of mindfulness lies. We are so programmed to sort our experiences and judge every thought, word, and deed as good or bad, right or wrong, black or white. This either/or type thinking tends to keep us bound to the small mind that judges. Mindfulness training invites us to take a step back and see things from a larger perspective. As we loosen our grip and release the tendency to judge and control we grow in acceptance and compassion for what is both within and all around us.
This past week, my kids had no school for spring break. Because of our work schedules, we were planning on doing a stay-cation much to the kids’ dismay. On the first adventure of the week we went into the city and saw a musical. Our friends came to join us and we had a fabulous time. Before the evening was over, my friend invited us to join them on a last minute excursion to the ocean. She encouraged and nudged and everything in me said “no.” Not because I wouldn’t like to steal away and head to the beach, but my mind had a plan for the week and this was not in the cards. My small mind said, “this is the right plan” and it would not budge. It got feisty and defensive as I tried to introduce all the reasons why this could be a good plan. In this moment I was aware of the way my mind was full of judgment and when I took time to pause and engage with what was happening internally, a shift occurred. Mindfulness practice is simply noticing yourself caught in the war in your mind and choosing to loosen your grip. It is the choice that we make to stop the regularly scheduled program of energy draining distraction and cultivating a pause. In that quiet space, you can shift to a life-giving concentration, and exercise your power to choose.
This is the practice of presence: Begin by coming to a comfortable seated position. Give your body permission to relax any tension or strain and simply arrive. As you let go of the stress, bring your awareness to your breath. Simply notice the breath as it enters the tip of the nose. Pause at the top of the inhale and rest in the stillness. Notice the breath as it exits the tip of the nose. As you let go of the breath, you have permission to release with it anything that feels like stress. Pause in the emptiness at the bottom of the exhale letting go completely. With each breath you are invited to simply love what is without judgment or pressure to control anything, allow the breath to lead you back to that calm place that is your center. Practice resting there and notice how you feel. If your mind begins to wander, gently and lovingly bring it back to the breath. Allow the breath to lead you in the direction of love.
After you practice mindful breathing, you may be able to look at your current reality with new eyes. Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote “when you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.” Sometimes the only thing that shifts in mindfulness practice is our perspective and that is often the most important thing. When we are able to return to the center and release our judgments, we are able to return to a common flow of Spirit, life and love. There is an energy greater than we are and it is constantly flowing in a positive direction. Why don’t you practice stopping next time your mind feels like it is on overflow? Return to the present moment and breathe in this gift of Spirit and life that is riding on the breath. Pause and rest in the stillness and remember that everything you need lies within. Use your exhale as a reminder to let go. In letting go, we are free! What are you willing to release this week so that you can move toward the freedom you were meant for?
Last week, after stopping in my programmed stress response, I was able to see clearly. I was able to loosen my grip and release my two beautiful girls to go on a spring break adventure with my dear friend and her daughter. Because I let go, they were all blessed and so was I, as I found space to breathe and empty out corners of my mind, heart and home. I am entering this week with gratitude and spaciousness and inviting you to pause and loosen your grip. May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you move through the world with ease….
Please join us for our upcoming mindfulness workshop on May 3rd. http://www.sowthat.com/class