The formal definition of mindfulness is to pay attention, on purpose, in the moment, without judgement. Yoga is the practice of mindfulness, the process of waking up to ourselves and what is around us. If we are more mindful we develop a greater clarity and vision that can see us through most of our day to day dilemmas. Being mindful can also help us be better bosses, parents or students. When you are mindful you have a better idea of how to act in any given situation, you are more connected to what you do and you are less reactive once you start to see things as they really are. Most importantly mindfulness practice meets us where we are right now, in the present.
Formal mindfulness practice is a period of time you choose to be just that, mindful. Like a meditation practice you choose 30 minutes of your day where you are mindful to whatever arises. This can be done sitting or as you go about your day. You bring a quality of attention to what arises in the mind and body. Without interpretation you watch what comes your way without feeling a need to cultivate a story out of it.
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn,
Informal practice is when you choose to pay attention as often as you can throughout the day to what you are doing. This is challenging. When you are in the shower you are in the shower meaning you aren’t thinking about the meeting you going to but you are feeling the water on your body. When you eat breakfast you are eating breakfast not reading the paper. When you are talking to someone you are not waiting to say what you have to say but instead you are actually listening to their words. When you are walking you can feel the touch of your feet on the earth.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Once we start to enrich our life with practicing mindfulness on a formal or informal basis we will start to develop spontaneous mindfulness. This is when you start to really see what is around you without even trying. Maybe you are out walking and you glimpse some wildlife you have never noticed before. Maybe in your job you suddenly start to notice the effort someone has made or the way they talk or smile. Things will just pop into your vision that have been there forever but you failed to notice in your effort to be busy.
“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” ― Betty Smith
Practice for today: Just take one precious moment of your day to really feel and see without judgement. Take in the colours sounds and sights. Be here for yourself to taste what it really is like to stop and bath yourself in the timelessness of this moment.