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“Mindfulness” is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

That definition is awesome!  That understanding is very desirable to me.  That way of life is not mine but I would sure like to try to incorporate it into my daily life as I am concerned that if I don’t pay closer attention to all the beauty around me it might be lost to me in a fog of memories come and gone.

So I went on a search and discovery mode and found many interesting and insightful resources.  Clearly Mindfulness as a cultural phenomenon is here to stay.  We as people fro a western ideological standpoint are engaging this important precept.  In a cover story in the November-December issue of Psychology Today, I learned of   paradoxes of living in the moment. Since then, I’ve been trying to live in the moment as much as possible. Whenever I feel upset or worried, I try to bring myself into the present. And when I can I take a few mindful breaths.  Look at my surroundings, and pay attention to the moment.  Wow, have I got a long way to go, but I’m living less in my head and more in the moment now than ever before—and I can feel the difference.

Here are some practical tips to help you on your mindfulness journey.

Meditate. The easiest way to meditate is to simply focus on your breath.   The challenge is to keep your attention on your breathing. Often, your mind will wander and thoughts will arise—and that’s fine. When it happens, just let go of the thought and bring your attention back to the present by focusing once again on your breath.

Use a reminder, something that you can use as a call to attention.  When you notice it, let that serve as a reminder for you to notice your surroundings, become aware of your senses and your bodily sensations, and bring your focus into the present.

Practice slowing down life by attending to the small things of life and experience. Take a minute and go get a handful of rocks or sand. Now look closely don’t just drop them or it. Instead, imagine you’ve never seen a rock before. Look it over carefully. Consider its shape, weight, color, and texture. Rub the rock or sand in your hand.  Notice its feel, texture, color, and weight, all of the qualities.   Remember to focus on what each pebble/rock or grains look like.

Make it new. When you’re cooking, giving a presentation, or even just recounting a favorite story, try to make it new in subtle ways, delivering it in a way you’ve never done before. Rather than performing it by rote, take a risk and try something slightly new—use different seasoning, words, add a pause, try to express a particular emotion to the audience in a new way.

Mind the gap. Whenever you find yourself waiting—for the checkout line to move, for the traffic light to change, for the Web page to load—get present. Instead of being impatient and wishing things would go faster, be grateful for the gift of a respite—for the 30 seconds or a minute or two minutes during which you have no obligations. Take the opportunity to mindfully breathe in, breathe out, and savor the moment.

Focus on your senses. When you observe your surroundings without judging them good or bad, you naturally move your awareness into the present moment.

Close your eyes and focus on your sense of scent and mentally list all the smells you're aware of—the restaurant downstairs, the wet pavement outside, the perfume of a nearby co-worker.

Next, list all the different sounds you can hear—the ventilation system, cars in the distance, and the hum of your a/c unit, texting, and footsteps.

Then, open your eyes and list all the things you see—the rustling of the trees, the faces in the crowd, and the wrinkles on your palm.

Finally, list all the things you can sense that you appreciate—the way a beam of sunlight hits the brick building across the street, the welcome sight of a friend's smile, the smell of cookies baking. Remember, you're not looking for things to appreciate—you're appreciating the things you sense.

With practice, this exercise will put you in a state of relaxed attention that reduces anxiety and makes you feel more fully alive.

That’s ultimately my goal for each of us...  to be more fully alive this day and all the days of our lives.

In faith,

Rev. Gordon Clay Bailey

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