I've always been very inspired by the Buddhist teachings around Mindfulness. My introduction to meditation was down the mindfulness meditation path, and I've always believed in a seamless and natural bond between mindfulness and yoga. In coping with emotional intensity and grief, mindfulness is an extremely supportive and honouring practice.
In its most basic and broadest sense, mindfulness is the practice of tuning into our full experience, using all our own senses. With mindfulness our experience becomes richer, our senses broader, our mind more focused.
Mindfulness is unique because it can be done as you go about your daily life - in fact, its probably practiced best this way - completely integrated into your daily experiences. You can turn any moment into a mini-mindfulness meditation by just slowing your movements down and paying attention.
From where you are right now, just stop. Notice something near you - an object which you can pick up. Take a moment to just notice that object, and all its qualities - shape, color, texture. Notice yourself noticing it - the movement and tracking of your eyes, the tilt of your head, your breath. Now very slowly (very slowly) begin to reach your hand towards the object, using all your senses to tune into the full rich experience of simply reaching. Noticing things like the contraction and simultaneous lengthening of your are muscles, the movement and touch of your clothing agains your skin, the subtle ways your hand adjusts and positions itself to grasp. Include being mindful of thoughts and feelings as they arise - noticing them without judgement and with complete acceptance and awareness.
Moving slowly and with awareness is the portal into minfulness. When we slow down we open ourselves up to new ways of experiencing each moment. The practice of mindfulness isn't to change anything, it's simply to expeirence if for what it is. Approach each moment with a fresh "beginners mind" and open perspective to an otherwise mundane and routine experience. It only takes a second or two to slow down, mid-day, mid-action, and practice mindfulness. A mini meditation to expand your inner awareness and create space for new ways of perceiving. Two great times to practice mindfulness are when walking, and when eating.
In his book, Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl said, "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
Create space for your own freedom.
Stay tuned for part 2: Mindful Thoughts, and Part 3: Mindful Emotions.