Imagine you were a bird. Perched in a tree, peering through your bird-eyes at the world. You have no cultural identification nor ever think of your past or entertain any inclinations to plan a future. The vast landscape requires no labels. Tall branches provide comfort and shelter. Nature provides nourishment. There is no good or bad, only varying sensations. Sunlight, wind, rain, snow — terrestrial elements unfolding naturally without judgment; only instinct guiding your way. Your bird-self maintains no sense of possession over the little-bitty birds that have long since fled the nest, nor ownership of the tree you’re perched in. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings from the neighboring branch, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.
Have you ever touched the moment?
Would you like to try?
Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Upon opening your eyes, slowly scan the room, taking in as many details as you can, noticing colors, textures, shapes and sounds. There is no need to label them. Simply notice. Now, when you are done, look at your hand, extend your index finger and touch the tip of your nose.
…Five minutes later…
This is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the process by which momentary engagement is developed. It’s not a technique to bestow rapture or bliss but it is a method of discovering peace. Our six sense doors (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch, and thought) are the means by which we experience the world. The first of the five senses are merely the methods by which the brain receives data. It is the mind that however, that evaluates and tosses the tinted cloth over the experience labeling it as something.
Mindfulness is the constant focus and re-focusing — moment to moment to moment, on the object of our awareness. If listening, we focus on listening; if putting on shoes, we focus on putting on our shoes. This means directing full awareness upon the object of attention: the feeling of the sock on the foot, the sound made sliding the foot into the shoe, the pliancy of the fabric, the sensation of the toe slipping along the bottom…
Momentary engagement is not a misnomer. As science has taught us, all objects in the universe are bundles of energy vibrating at varying frequencies. Nothing is static. From moment to moment to moment everything in our world is changing. Mindfulness swings opens the gate of focused awareness supporting our engagement. It helps us to be more detailed employees, better friends and attentive parents. Developing this skill weaves a translucent thread of lucidity throughout the fabric of our existence. But most importantly, it opens the doors to be the fullest expression of ourselves, inviting in authentic aspects of our being that we haven’t connected with in a very long time.
The steps for developing mindfulness are deceptively simple. Execution however, does not come without its complications. The challenge lies within the realm of our thoughts, the single most distracting element to our experience of the current moment. We are forever pulled into reflections of the past, dreams of the future and into the application of those colorful tags of judgment.
The process can be misleading, as it is not the silencing of our thoughts that opens the door to engagement. It is momentary engagement that is the key to silencing our thoughts. By focusing intently upon the task at hand there is no room for discursive thinking to populate the quiet space in our mind. Judgment ceases and for the moment, we can just be.
Mindfulness is not a permanent state of awareness. It is an ongoing process that develops the richness of our experience because of our ability to be within the frame of the current moment without our thoughts getting in the way. It is a skill that can be practiced every second of every day — and just like meditation, will not be developed simply by reading about it.
Once we have touched the moment, even if only briefly, it is an experience worth savoring. Perhaps at first, it is only for fractions of a second, but with practice this grows into minutes, eventually enriching every aspect of our life-experience. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.
~ by Christine Fowle
~ Photo Credit: Dave Womach