Mindfulness is the art of paying attention, non-judgmentally, to whatever arises in the present moment. When we are mindful, we experience directly whatever presents itself in our experience, no longer resisting the flow of life. We can bring mindfulness to anything we experience - breathing, eating, thinking, feeling, walking; even physical pain. Mindfulness is a skill that anyone can learn, offering scientifically-proven benefits such as deep relaxation, less stress, better sleep, more fulfilling relationships, and a greater sense of aliveness.
In essence, Mindfulness is an approach to life that encourages being present in the moment whilst nurturing an attitude of acceptance of whatever is experienced in each moment. Over time, with consistent practice we can make the most of our lives, just as it is. Furthermore, we can increase our choices in how we live our lives by responding more mindfully.
In contrast, we tend to oscillate between remembering the past or projecting into the future, so that the present moment is lost to us. Depending upon the nature of what we experience and the thoughts/feelings evoked, we respond accordingly. This is often based upon an automatic or habitual learned way of reacting to events. This approach to living often leaves us feeling ‘stuck’, ‘restless’, ‘dissatisfied’, ‘despondent’, depressed and anxious.
We understand intellectually, that the present moment is all that exists. However, being human, we can so easily forget. Before we know it, we have wandered away from the present, wishing things were different to the way they are. The here and now moment which can hold so much for us has passed, never to be reclaimed. Years of single moments may pass us by until we find ourselves looking back at accumulated wasted moments. This approach to life can become a vicious cycle, a never ending sense of grasping, avoiding, drowning, and escaping.
The point is not what a particular moment may bring but rather, how we approach our experience to whatever arises. Usually, if the experience is difficult or uncomfortable, we tend to either immerse or drown ourselves in it. Alternatively, if our experience is pleasant we want to hold on to it, for fear that the unpleasant experience will return. Either way, we find ourselves unable to be with what is and as a result, the opportunity to gain an increased understanding of the way we react to our experiences, moment to moment.
A Mindful approach to living, developed through regular practice enables us to find a more balanced approach. One in which we neither avoid or drown. We allow ourselves to be present with experiences as they arise, moment by moment. We learn to be fully alive now!