You have likely heard of the term “mindfulness”, and perhaps you have associated the term with yoga or some sort of Buddhist activity, but you don’t need to be a Buddhist or do yoga to practice mindfulness.
Let’s look at what it means to practice mindfulness. To live mindfully means to live in the present, and this practice has become important in certain types of therapy for all ages. It means to focus on the present moment rather than dwell in the past or worry about the future.
For many who are practicing Christians, the term mindfulness brings about concern, but the Bible talks a great deal about mindfulness. One such example is Matthew 6:34:
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
And similarly, Isaiah 43:18 says:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
Clearly, we are meant to live in the present moment. I can assure you there is not one person who does not have their share of “baggage” from the past, but the past is just that, it is in the past and you are no longer able to go back and change what happened there, so why focus on it?
The art of practicing mindfulness is enjoying the present moment you are in. When we are busy focussing on the past or worrying about the future, we are missing the beauty of here and now.
To practice mindfulness, you do not need to sit in some awkward position with incense burning. Practicing mindfulness is more about focussing on what is around you in this very moment and being thankful for it.
The more time we focus on the moment we are in, the less we are mentally available to allow our mind to ruminate on moments of the past, or worry about the issues and concerns of the future.
So how does one practice mindfulness?
Simple. You just begin to focus on the moment.
Let’s take for example eating. When you are sitting down to enjoy a meal, you can be thankful for the meal, the hands that prepared it, the garden it came from, the person who grew the food. Enjoy the taste of the food, and perhaps the company you share while having the meal. Sitting across from a loved one, you can enjoy their smile or the comfort of the sound of their voice, and just be thankful for that moment.
The opposite of this would be to worry about who is going to clean up the kitchen and how you are going to have the time to make lunch for work tomorrow or to worry about something that happened at work, or earlier in the day. When your mind is on those things you lose out on the beauty of the food you are enjoying, and maybe the company of those around you.
A wise person once said, “we are never promised tomorrow”, so why keep our mind focussed on then when we are here right now.
When you go for a walk, look at the leaves, feel the sun shining, or maybe even the rain falling. Enjoy that moment. Feel the sun or the rain. How does it feel? Warm? Wet? Look at the beauty of what is all around you and really take in that moment.
As a society, we are so very consumed with worry. Worry about what happened yesterday or last year. We worry about the bills that need to be paid or things that need to get done.
What if we could put those things aside?
It doesn’t mean that the bill isn’t important, or that paying it isn’t important. It just means that right in this moment you can be thankful for the fact that it was paid last time, and you are here right now enjoying whatever the bill covered. Perhaps the hydro or cable. You are warm, safe and comfortable. You are spending time enjoying watching a favorite show. Tomorrow will come, along with the bill, and it will be paid the same as it always is. Or if not, that’s ok too. But don’t waste this very moment that you are in.
It’s not about preparing for things; it’s about not worrying about them. If you are preparing for something, you have been given the means to do so and be thankful for that in this moment. To put it simply, it’s just about enjoying the here and now.
For those with anxiety, this type of thinking or just being present and mindful of that very moment, has been shown to help immensely. Anxiety is often worrying about something that could happen or something that did.
If you are one to experience anxiety, the next time it comes along try some of these things:
Sit down and take slow deep focused breaths, and as you are breathing in focus on that very moment. Think about the sounds in the room, the smells, and the sensation of breathing in and out. With your mind right in that moment, not allowing your mind to wander to what is causing the anxiety, you can begin to relax.
Practicing mindfulness is about enjoying the present moment you are in. It’s about being thankful for the beauty that is all around you.