KEEPING WATCH – the art of mindfulness

SwayambhunathStupaBuddhaEyes

Look around you – it’s called mindfulness.

Look within  – it’s called meditation.

Bring the two together – it’s called ‘living consciously.’

Living consciously, staying in the moment, being present – however you say it – is a choice you make about how you want to live your life.  It’s the practice of being self-aware – watching what’s going on around you and what’s going on inside – as you move through the day.

Think of it as psychic multi-tasking.  Totally different from the delusional, goal-driven mania to get more done by doing everything at once, that renders any kind of mindfulness, present-ness or awareness – self or otherwise – completely impossible.

Psychic multi-tasking is regular multi-tasking in reverse. Instead of doing fifty different things and being pulled in fifty different directions at the same time – thereby loosing all contact with your center – you observe the world around and the world within – the endlessly changing states of mind, body and emotion all competing for your attention – and purposefully, determinedly draw them into center.  In other words – you take charge of things.

Here are some examples of what I mean.

  • Talking on the phone, adjusting the volume on the radio and driving at the same time is multi-tasking that puts you in actual danger.
  • Being aware of tension in your shoulders and the thought process feeding that tension– and how the two are affecting your mood,  is psychic multitasking and gives you a chance to ease the tension, alter your thinking and improve your mood.
  • Reading and responding to a text message while you’re talking with someone about something else altogether, obviates your ability to relate to either in a meaningful way. Typical multi-tasking.
  • Being aware that you’re in a situation that’s making you anxious gives you the chance to take a deep, relaxing breath and change, if not the situation your in, at least your reaction to it, thus easing your anxiety.  Psychic multi-tasking.

How you feel, what you’re thinking, where you are, who you’re with – every part of your day, social, physical, emotional, mental, familial – interrelates and intertwines.  Only by practicing self-awareness – watching, observing and adjusting to all that’s going on, within and without – can you navigate the chaos and demands of everyday life with any semblance of grace and ease.

Mindfulness is a full time job.  But then so is living.  And being aware, present and involved in the process is to maximize your potential to live your life to its absolute fullest.

 

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