A few months ago, I was looking for a unique way to celebrate my birthday. As I cruised around the internet, checking out different ideas, I came across a class entitled: Mindfulness: It’s Not What You Think. Hmm.
I chose the word ‘Now’ to be my guide in 2017. Instead of living in the past, or worrying about the future, I wanted to be fully aware, in each moment, right now. The class that I found on-line sounded like a perfect way to learn more about my theme. What is mindfulness, but paying attention to what’s happening right now? And I was intrigued. And what did ‘it’s not what you think’ mean?
The instructor opened the class by saying that many think of mindfulness as ‘living in the moment’, but that’s not entirely true. (So that’s where the ‘it’s not what you think’ comes in.)
Imagine you are sitting on a bench by a river lined with trees and a nature path. As you watch the river slowly flow by, you may find yourself focusing on a lone leaf as its pushed along by the current. In narrowing in on that leaf; the trees, path, birds and breeze that also lived in that ‘now moment’, were effectively blocked out and unnoticed.
Seeing and following the leaf wasn’t wrong, it just proves a point: It’s impossible to grab hold of ‘now’ because it’s too wide and too densely packed a place to completely absorb. Isn’t that interesting?
He suggested that instead of trying to constantly grab at an event, while missing everything else (think Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory), we should try to step back and observe as much of life as we can without judgement. There’s a constant flow of events that meets us in each hour, and the goal is to be truly present and aware of as much as possible.
The biggest block to being mindful is overreaction.
As soon as powerful emotions take over, we become frozen in that moment. For example, wrestling with anger over a pushy driver, I’m unable to appreciate all the other courteous drivers or the music in the car, because I’m held hostage by irritation and disappointment. Immersed in negative feelings, beautiful and intricately knit gifts of the day continue to silently glide past me unseen and unheard.
This new way of living mindfully was a revelation to me. It makes sense that it’s impossible to take in everything happening right now, just based on the volume of input. I like the idea of being open to moments instead of trying to to attach myself to them, and trying not to be carried away by emotion. That way, I can lovingly accept every circumstance and give thanks, ready to accept the next experience planned for me.
“Mindfulness” allows me to receive, while “living in the moment” demands that I reach, grab and try to possess each event. Mindfulness certainly sounds like a more peaceful way to negotiate life.
Surrounded by the Spirit on Facebook