Every day we have so many things to do and so many tasks and goals to complete that it can be difficult to be mindful, to be aware of what we are doing and how we are doing it, to be present and awake, to attend to our own existence, to let ourselves be enveloped by the here, by the now, by the moment we are living in, which is the most valuable thing we can ever have. But being mindful is essential to reaching the depths of who we are.
Often, I find myself guilty of being unmindful, of letting minutes and hours slip by vaguely and indistinctly while I am wholly absorbed by the uncertainties of the future or by contemplations of the past. I try then to snap out of it, to attend to what I am doing, whether it is dusting my room, eating, walking, or working, to stop being an automaton and plunge into the here and the now. I begin by becoming aware of my breathing, of that existential swing in my breast, that up and down, that in and out miracle, and from then I become aware of my weight and the pressure under my feet, and of what my senses are processing, and let me tell you that it is a wonderful sensation to wake up like that to your own existence, even if it is only for a short time, even if the practicalities of life and daily concerns soon absorb you again.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Not all of us have the time or the inclination to meditate like the Buddhists do, or to study Buddhism and the miracle of mindfulness this open-minded philosophy of life can add to our lives. But all of us, regardless of who we are or where we live, can try to be a little more aware every day. You know, to smell that morning coffee or tea and drink in its flavor before taking the cup to our lips, to appreciate the soft caress of the clothes we wear, to welcome the warm approval of the sun rays as we go out there into the world, to mind our breathing, to feel our lungs swell with the air that sustains our existence, to enjoy the simple act of walking from here to there and back again, to be here, to be now trying to enjoy what we do, to be fully aware of those around us and of our loved ones, in short, to attend to our own lives and actually live them rather than settle down in the comfortable position of the spectator and watch our days unfold one after the other, their passing marked only by our achievements, memories, and the changing of the seasons.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
So many things are beyond our control. Even if we work hard, even if we give all we have, not all of us will see our dreams come true, not all of us will get to see the pyramids, or the Niagara falls, or be married and have happy families, or succeed professionally, or change the world for the better. If we judge our life based on our achievements, we will invariably be disappointed. But if we are mindful, if we work hard and do our best, and if we attend to the here and the now, and take the good and the bad as they come, then we have not lived in vain. To me, to live your life means to be mindful. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether you’re scrubbing floors, reading, walking on white sands beside your lover, or watching the August sunset through the dusty window of a solitary house. If you are mindful, you are not living in vain.
Is being mindful important to you? Are you as mindful as you would like to be?