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I’m sure you’ve seen the glossy photos.
A blissed-out beautiful young woman sits on a hand-embroidered silk pillow, sipping organic tea grown only in the remote mountains of Tibet, staring into a quiet forest of old-growth pines. The room around her is peaceful, serene, and immaculate.
How are the rest of us mere humans supposed to get even a glimpse of this kind of mindfulness when we’re working three jobs, struggling with bills, and our apartment isn’t always a serene retreat?
Mindfulness is not about purchasing a curated array of expensive crystals or flying to spend a month at a high-priced beachside retreat. Mindfulness is not a luxury owned and controlled by the rich or famous. Mindfulness is here. In this moment. In this now. However messy or noisy or stressful this moment is, it is perfect for the practice of mindfulness.
That’s because mindfulness is about being present in whatever this moment has to offer.
Both mindfulness and meditation can be done anywhere, at any time, by any person. They can be done by you, no matter what your situation.
Let’s say your only weekday moment which is not claimed by necessary tasks is your 15-minute bus ride to work. That is great! In those 15 minutes, focus on long, deep breaths. Draw your attention to the feel of the air moving past your nostrils. If there is ambient noise or movement, that’s fine. Those are part of your world. Focus on the breath. Acknowledge things that happen without assigning value to them. They are simply aspects of your environment.
Perhaps your only free moments are when you are washing dishes. Dishes can be incredibly meditative! Focus on each plate, each glass. If other thoughts bubble up, gently let them go. For this one moment, you are focused on your task. You are practicing the ability to breathe steadily and detach from impulse.
It could be that the time that is your own is when you finally lay down to sleep. That is perfect. Take in long, slow, deep breaths. Release any concerns from the day or worries about tomorrow. You will deal with those issues when you wake up refreshed and renewed. Right now, your only task is to breathe. To release. Let any thoughts or concerns drift past like fluffy clouds. You acknowledge they are there and you let them drift on. They can be addressed in the morning when you have fresh energy.
The more that you take these small pauses in life, the more you will discover how they permeate everything else you do. A mindful commute into work can make the entire workday go more smoothly, as you deal with challenges and issues with a steady hand. The way you interact with others can create a ripple effect. Some people could ease off and become gentle when they come into your sphere of relaxed energy. It won’t always work, but there will be enough successes to make it worthwhile.
Every pause becomes an opportunity to renew and refresh yourself. The 10 seconds for washing your hands. The pause at a red light. The waiting for the coffee or tea or food in the microwave to be ready. Every one of those segments of time presents itself to you for your enjoyment.
So, gently release thoughts that only those with silk-embroidered pillows and pristine beautiful screened porches can benefit from meditation and mindfulness. We all can enjoy the benefits of these free, always-available practices. All we need to do to get started is pause, focus, and breathe.