MoHow Posted By: Dr. MO Too often we ‘go through‘ our days without truly experiencing them. How often have you eaten a meal and not really tasted it, or been in conversation with someone and not remembered it, or driven in your car and not been present?
One of my favorite ways of lowering my stress level and being happier is knowing how to ‘be in the moment’. The teachings of Zen Buddhism call this state ‘mindfulness’. It’s somewhat like meditation, however, it’s more about becoming aware of your actions and thoughts, and what your senses bring in, in your every day life, moment after moment.
No one actually lives in the moment all the time, I don’t think it’s possible. Some people, with practice, learn to live in the moment for longer periods of time, but there will always be times when you’re worried about the future or thinking about the past, and lose your connection to the moment.
Mindfulness is actually quite difficult to attain. Here is a short experiment..
Close your eyes (after reading the instructions that follow), and concentrate on your breathing…..the sensation of the air as it enters your nose or mouth and fills your lungs, and then as it goes out again. If other thoughts come up, be aware of them, acknowledge them, let them go (but don’t try to force them away) and then return your focus to your breathing.
It’s hard, isn’t it? Being in the moment is is simple to read about, and not as easy as it sounds. It takes concerted practice, and can be achieved over time. To help inspire you to live in the moment, here are 5 examples of it’s benefits….
1. Watch a child. There’s no one better at being present than a young child. I love to watch my six-year-old grand-daughter, Lilly, as she plays. She’s not thinking about what happened to her yesterday, or what she’s going to do later today. She’s an Earth Ranger, and she’s saving Barn Swallows, and nothing else in the world exists. She has no cares about tomorrow, and for that, I love to watch her. We need to use children as inspiration, and try to be like them as much as we can.
2. Be like a cat. I also like watching our cat, MO. He thinks he’s a mighty hunter He’ll stealthily stalk an insect, as if he’s hidden in tall grass on the savanna, and then he pounces and attacks. You know he’s not thinking about what he had for breakfast or what’s for dinner later in the day. Cats (and other animals) are all about the Now, being Present.
3. Eating breakfast. I’m learning about how to eat my meals better. I can, more and more often, really savor my food, with all of my being. to do this I closes my eyes, and slowly put a spoon of yogurt in my mouth. I enjoy the flavor, the texture, the coolness, the sweetness, the smell of it. These are great experiences that I didn’t have in the past.
The next time you eat something, don’t think about anything else, don’t read, or watch TV, just experience the food.
4. Zen sweeper. It’s been said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting meditation (zazen) and ‘sweeping’. Cleaning is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep or rake, and focus on nothing else. They aren’t thinking about being in a Zen state, the Zen state is the sweeping. The next time you’re doing housework (or anything, really), concentrate on the housework, on the motion, on the sensation.
5. Be fully here. Can you remember a time when you ‘lost yourself’ completely in a task? Not lost in in the usual way, but fully engrossed in the doing of the task itself, you were fully into it, you thought of nothing else. The world disappeared. It might have been work… you might have achieved that state of mind known as “flow”… or it could have been a hobby, playing sports, doing work in the garden, fixing something, anything. Remember times like that, and replicate them.
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