I am a counselor, so one might think the concept of mindfulness would come easily to me.
Yet frequently I can’t remember if I put my deodorant on in the morning or not. I often do a 2nd roll of the deodorant just to be certain, which I am certain my co-workers appreciate. While preparing for my workday and starting my daily routine (brushing my hair, teeth, and putting deodorant on) my mind has already started to wander to the errands and matters of the day.
I remind myself that I have peace within me, but when engaging in the activities of daily living, peace does not come naturally to me.
So what does this mean? It means that I have to work on cultivating a peaceful mind and body. When I begin to think about all the “to dos” of the day and my mind wanders, I remind myself to slow down, be present and mindful of this very moment.
This thought helps calm my anxious mind. I will draw attention to my body, the sensation of my feet on the ground, my inhalations and exhalations, and any tension in my body or face.
I will experience this very moment, the present. I will let go of the goals and worries of the day, if just for a moment, and in this moment I am at peace.
The more I practice mindfulness and am aware of the physiological state of my body (breathing, muscle tension), the easier it is to cultivate this peace from within. I make conscious choices throughout my day to find peace and gain a greater awareness of self.
I recently grabbed a cup of coffee with a friend and arriving prior to her; I ordered and sat alone. My first thought was to grab for my iPhone to check one of my various e-mail accounts or to send a text. After all, I could text and see if she was en route?
Instead, I consciously sat my cell phone down and decided to experience the present. I felt uncomfortable at first, as I sat alone in my seat not accompanied by the companionship of my phone or friend.
The longer I sat, feet on the ground, engaging in diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing), letting my thoughts and feelings just enter and exit my mind non judgmentally, the more I relaxed.
I was in the present moment.
I savored the smell of the freshly brewed coffee, enjoying its bitter taste. Looking outside the large glass coffee shop windows, I admired the rain and the sounds it made hitting the pavement just feet from where I was seated. In this brief moment, awaiting a friend at the coffee shop, I realized I can take refuge in this short break, I can find peace.
It takes daily practice to relax my anxious mind. But the more frequently I find moments to practice mindfulness the more often I experience peace during my day.
I am a work in progress.
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Apprentice Editor: Sue Adair / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Kevin Chan via Pixoto