The above quote sums it all up. If we’re thinking too much about past or future, we aren’t present, and we can cause ourselves much suffering. At the moment, it is crucial for us all to try and live in the present, because there is so much happening that can cause us to spin out of control and increase our suffering.
I’m trying to live every day as mindfully as I can. My typical ‘day of mindfulness’ runs a bit like this:
“I wake up, and I breathe deeply for a few in-breaths and out-breaths. I attempt to smile, and to acknowledge that I’m still alive, and that I have another day ahead of me. I then get up, and feel the carpet under my feet as I move from bedroom to bathroom. I focus on my tasks in the bathroom – shower, cleaning teeth, going to the loo etc. I notice if my mind thinks about anything else, and try and bring it back to these simple, everyday tasks.
I then sit and meditate. It varies how long depending on what I need to do in a particular day, but I try at least for 10 minutes. At best, I’ve managed an hour. I sit and focus on my breathing, and let go of any thoughts. I notice my thoughts, how my body feels, how I feel. I don’t fix or think about anything as best as I can. Sometimes my mind is more choppy, and I think about lots of things. Other times I can calm my mind sufficiently to really enjoy the process of simply observing my breath.
I try and do my tasks in the day ‘with being’. I really focus on them, noticing if my mind wanders. I notice if I begin to feel grumpy, or annoyed, or frustrated with boredom, or feel overwhelmed, or anxious, and I breathe and welcome in the feelings. There are times I don’t manage it, and that my thoughts tumble around, and for a while I am anxious or fearful, or annoyed, or sad. It’s ok to have all these emotions. I give myself as much kindness as I can. I’m doing my best. I’m working through the emotions, being with them, not pushing them away or distracting from them, or blaming something for them. I let go of judgment of them and just accept them. Even if I don’t notice them at first, I’m getting better at noticing them and being with them.
I mindfully walk everyday. I make sure I try and feel the ground under my feet, and get outdoors in the sunshine when I can. I love looking at wildlife, hearing the wind breeze through trees. I tune into everyday sounds, and this, out of all the practices, calms me the most.
I try not to rush, or hurry onto the next things on my ‘to do’ list. Obviously with work and sessions to run, I do need to ‘do things’ and I set times to do just that, but at other times I breathe, rest up, and try and space out the ‘doing’ with as much ‘being’ as possible.
It’s not always easy to stay in the moment. That mind and ego can come in and take us away on stories, imaginations and worries. I’ve noticed in particular recently how up and down I’ve been feeling with what’s been happening. There are ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days, but with mindfulness we take away the ‘good/bad’. There is no judgment, just feeling a certain way now, and then feeling a certain way now, and so on!
I’m finding the practice invaluable, especially in those moments where I am suffering physically/mentally. To have pockets of present moment calmness is worth its weight in gold.
May you all stay safe, stay well, and sending loving-kindness to you all in these unprecedented times.