Living amid the busyness of our high-tech and low-touch society takes us away from fully experiencing our day-to-day lives. We often live on autopilot, doing without experiencing. We can be quick to judge, react, resist, run away, or retreat when things don’t go smoothly or the way we want. Mindfulness is opening up to now, whatever is happening — within you and around you, pleasant or unpleasant.
It can be cultivated through practices that help to stabilize the mind. Intentionally paying attention to a neutral point of focus is the easiest way to stabilize the mind, like an anchor that stops a boat from drifting aimlessly or getting tossed around in a storm. At a moment’s notice, you can return to the experience of the present moment simply by bringing awareness to an easily accessible point of focus.
Kindness Practice: Learning to Open Your Heart
You can learn to open your heart and cultivate kindness and goodwill toward others and yourself through practices that send out sincere good wishes to all. When you take a little time to do these practices and cultivate unconditional goodwill, you will likely feel a greater sense of well-being and be more connected with others and the world around you.
Bring to mind someone you’d like to extend feelings of kindness, love, and goodness toward. This may be someone dear to you, an acquaintance, someone with whom you have difficulty, a stranger, or yourself. Many people find it easier to begin with someone they love, and later practice kindness toward people they feel neutral toward or even dislike. Silently repeat the following phrases (or use words that feel right to you) in such a way that the words resonate, so you can feel them in your heart.
May you be free from harm.
May you be free from worry, fear, and anger.
May you be happy.
May you be physically healthy and strong.
May you live with ease.
A Simple Tip to Spark Mindfulness
An easy way to remember how to be mindful in the course of a busy day, or when you are overwhelmed, preoccupied, worried, angry, or uncomfortable, is to STOP:
S – Stop. Simply pause from what you are doing.
T – Take a few slow, deep breaths with awareness and tune in.
O – Observe and curiously notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
P – Proceed with whatever you were doing, with awareness and kindness.
Bringing Mindfulness into Everyday Life
The activities of daily living all provide great opportunities to discover mindfulness. You can brush your teeth, take a shower, or shave with a keen quality of attention and care. You can eat mindfully — noticing smells, tastes, textures, and temperatures, and what it feels like to chew and swallow. You can pay more attention when you’re driving, noticing your reactions to other drivers and traffic. You can bring awareness to household chores, to walking upstairs and downstairs, to taking out the garbage.
When someone is talking to you, listen fully and do nothing else. Connect with nature by going outside or looking out the window. Notice the color of the sky, the movement and shape of clouds, the stars, the moon, cool air or mist on your face, the sounds of animals. You will soon find that paying attention is not a chore. It’s refreshing and invigorating.
©2012 by Tim Ryan. All Rights Reserved,
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com
Article Source (from afterword of this book):
A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit by Tim Ryan.
About the Author
Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN, is an associate professor of nursing and Distinguished Scholar of the Georgia Cancer Coalition at Emory University in Atlanta. From 2001 to 2007, she was an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and research center director at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. Her research focuses on the effects of chronic stress and the benefits of mindfulness and compassion practices in the face of debilitation and potentially life-limiting illness. She has been a faculty member for the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Center for Mindfulness training programs and the Upaya Zen Center's educational programs. She also facilitates healing and resiliency retreats and workshops and meditation training programs for health care professionals and people with serious illnesses and their families.