This week’s topic is mindfulness. It’s showing up everywhere.. being taught in schools, as workshop and retreat topics. There’s even an organization called the Mindful Leadership Network. If you are in a leadership role of any capacity, I highly recommend it. https://www.mindfulleader.org/
Beyond it being a buzzword and a catch phrase to fill workshop seats though, what does it mean to be mindful? It’s more than a form of meditation to me; it’s a way of being.
To me it means to be in a state of active attention to the present. Not scrolling through social media while listening to a podcast and eating. Not replaying over and over what you wish you had or hadn’t said earlier in the day. Not having FOMO about some event you are not attending. Not taking a picture every few steps of your hike. Being fully and completely engaged in the moment you are in, breath by breath. As Consciousness observing the experience that your corporeal body is having.
I have two suggested exercises for you this week.
For the first one, I’d like you turn off your devices, and pour yourself a glass of water. Observe the glass or cup you chose for the water. Really look at it. All its variations. Is it smooth? Rough? Hand or machine made? Notice and appreciate everything about this container, and how water takes the shape of whatever container it’s in.
Next observe the water. Is it flat or bubbly? Clear? A little cloudy? Are there reflections in it? Is it warm, cold, hot?
And finally, drink the water. Do you drink it all in one go? Bit by bit? How does it taste? How does it feel in your mouth, going down.. can you feel your body taking on the hydration? Did it make you more aware of your mouth- your tongue, your lips, your teeth?
An alternative would be to take something like a single raisin or an almond, observe all its textures and colours. Smell it. Squish it if you like (hehe), and then eat it, slowly, fully experiencing how it feels in your mouth. How it tastes. So often we grab a drink or something to eat and consume it without experiencing and savoring it.
For the second exercise, I’d like you to get outside! For the good old 15 minutes, at the very least. Again turn off your device. Fully experience being outside. What does it smell like out there? What do your footsteps, bike, or wheels sound like. Is there a breeze? How does it feel? or the sun? or the fog? Do you hear other people, birds, animals? I find getting outside for even just a couple of minutes can revitalize me and reset my brain.
This all can translate to any creative practice- to any interaction with living beings.
If you sit down to create music, how does the instrument feel? Are there worn spots where your hands have traveled for years? If you write, consider the feel of pen on paper, or how the words flow from your brain to your hands to your keyboard. How does it feel when you squeeze that tube of paint? Chop the garlic? Put the spade into the earth, present your ideas to a committee? And so on.
There’s much more to mindfulness and mindfulness practice than all this, certainly. Shifting one’s perspective to be more fully present as one experiences the day can be a most satisfying part of it.
I invite you to create your own version of a mindfulness practice this week, and let me know how it goes!