Mindfulness is a term we hear a lot these days. Is it actually beneficial?
Let me start with this: The above photo (a much larger version) is currently my laptop’s home screen background photo. The photo was taken in downtown Montreal, Canada – a city I’ve had a love affair with since December 31st, 1998 (long story).
My wife and I are about to return to Montreal after five years (for our fifth wedding anniversary), and I’ve been researching places to go during our three-day stay. Stay with me – here’s where this gets good:
I tried a new soup for lunch today (while looking at photos of Montreal, feeling nostalgic): Butternut squash and roasted pepper soup. A beautiful thing happened after my first spoonful of soup: I’ve never had it before, so I slowly sipped at it, admiring its color, listening to some relaxed classical music in my headphones and feeling sentimental about returning to Montreal, and bang…it was like time had stopped, and I was in the middle of a slow-motion symphony of flavor from the soup, memories from Montreal reflections and appreciating the moment – every single sip – on purpose.
Purposely stopping and slowly savoring with all your senses can do wonders!
Taking my “soup and Montreal” example and applying it to your day to day life, you and I can choose to be more “in the moment,” more present whenever we want. When we do it, we feel like we’re living more fully, like we’re making the most of where we are. Why is this important? How does it enrich our lives? There are several great things that come from being more mindful, such as:
- Feeling more connected to life and whoever you’re with
- Appreciating where you’re at, even if you’re in the middle of a hard time – you stop, take several deep breaths and remember that this is simply a moment in time, that only by putting one foot in front of the other can you get through these moments
- Anxiety can melt away, since worry over the future and past often goes away when you’re deeply focused on enjoying each bite of your meal, quality time with a loved one, or whatever else you’re doing
- Life is fast and often ruched these days – mindfulness is literally a gift we can give ourselves at any moment
- Simply savoring an experience makes it slow down in our minds, making it like a three-course meal as opposed to fast food that we eat fast and don’t appreciate nearly as much, since it was eaten very fast
Ask yourself: “When can I make time to intentionally savor each moment? What would I really enjoy savoring?”
Admittedly, I want to do much more savoring of day to day things than I currently do. There’s a delicate but needed reminder here, though: Don’t worry about being a “perfectionist” with this stuff – simply do something to remind yourself of being mindful on a regular basis. After all, this is a subjective practice, not anything else. What works for me may not be your cup of tea, and that’s the way it should be – be gentle on yourself and start with your next meal -it’s as easy as that! You do eat, right? 🙂
It doesn’t matter what you’re eating – what matters with that or any other mindfulness practice (so to speak) is to use as many senses as you can. I was just petting my dog, for instance – listening to her breathing, looking at her beautiful face and body, feeling her fur and rubbing her in a slow, gentle way. I was even kissing her and naturally smelled her scent (she had a bath yesterday, and smells like the shampoo a bit). That’s at least four senses used very easily, though I made a point of seeing how much I could savor the experience of loving her as she rested.
Whatever it is, we can make a sudden decision to be more in the moment, focusing on our senses and really “milking the experience,” getting the zest out of life in simple ways.
I’m telling you – it’s a beautiful, beautiful experience. It makes me feel more alive, frankly. How about you?