A few months ago I completed a day-long course in Mindfulness. It was the most enlightening, inspiring and eye-opening day I have ever spent. Because of my experience on that day, I decided to do an 8 week course called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction which I have just completed. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment – thinking it, feeling it and living it. I was blown away with the impact it had on me. I experienced for the first time the sheer miracle of being alive – to be able to breathe, see, hear, stand, take a step and the work my body and mind working together has to do for me to be able to do those things. It was amazing.
Part of the course included a full day of Mindfulness. We were blessed with beautiful weather on the day and were able to be outside to take a walk and notice and be aware of everything around us. Because I was mindful of everything on my walk, it really opened my eyes to the wonder of nature and the animals and creatures we share this planet with. It is amazing what you hear when you really listen. The inner peace and happiness I experienced was breath-taking and overwhelming.
During lunch we were encouraged not to talk but to be mindful and really taste the food that had been prepared for us. At first I found that hard but when I really set my mind to it, I realised that I usually just gulped down my food. Being mindful enabled me to taste everything differently. I thought about the ingredients that were in the meal, the hands that made it, where it had come from and the hard work it took to get it to the table for me to enjoy – things that wouldn’t even cross my mind normally. That meal was mouth-wateringly tasty.
Jan Kabat Zen, who developed this particular programme / course, says that “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in a particular way, without judgement, to whatever you are experiencing in the present moment”. That is a powerful statement when you really think about it.
Mindfulness may not be for everyone but I think there is a lot to be discovered when we step out of our comfort zone, our own little world and truly experience and pay attention to what is happening all around us. If we worry about the past or the future, then we are missing out on the present. Paying attention to the breath in the present moment can have a calming, serene effect that promotes happiness and well-being.