What does living presently look like? How does it feel when we focus our attention on the moment that we’re in without the heaviness of dwelling on difficult past events or the uncertainty about what might lie ahead; transporting ourselves to events in the future that take us away from today and the time that we’re living now; the ability to enjoy just this moment.
The term “mindfulness” is defined differently by different experts around the word but in essence all it really means is focusing our attention in the moment . The Cambridge Dictionary definition describes mindfulness as ‘the practice of being aware of your body, mind and feelings in the present moment.’ That sounds simple enough so why do so many of us find ourselves totally lost in thought for so much of the time and as far away from the present moment as we could possibly be? And, what’s the impact of this upon our wellbeing?
We have a mind that is designed to wander and indeed which requires no help whatsoever to wander to thoughts that often involve us being unkind to ourselves. As humans, the majority of us find it relatively easy to show kindness to others but being kind to ourselves is often something that we have to work a whole lot harder at achieving. The wandering mind can seek out self-doubt and insecurities even when we’re surrounded by the most beautiful scenery, the most amazing sunset and in the most tranquil of places. Learning to observe our thoughts by creating some distance between us and them and being able to cultivate the ability to remember that we are not our thoughts, helps us to enjoy wherever we are presently. Mindfulness doesn’t have the ability to make everything right in our world but it certainly has the transformative power to enable us to enjoy being in the present moment without thoughts of what we have or haven’t done or said, getting in the way.
We are highly seasoned time travellers; we’ve been doing it for most of our lives. We possess the ability to travel so many miles physically but we also possess a finely tuned ability to mentally travel and it’s the mental travelling that clocks up the most miles, so much of our time and which can be so detrimental to our wellbeing. How much do we miss of what goes on around us because we are miles away from the present moment? How often are our ears really listening and taking in what’s being said? How well can we tune into our present surroundings without our thoughts taking us to difficult and challenging places?
Mindfulness gives us choices. We can choose to allow so much of our lives to go by without our noticing or we can choose to pause, to slow down and to acknowledge where our wandering mind has taken us. Mindfulness meditation involves actively choosing to focus on the breath as an anchor point to which we can choose to return over and over, moment-by-moment. Learning to harness the emotionally restorative and soothing effect on the nervous system that focused breathing can achieve is there for all of us to enjoy. If we are breathing and noticing, we are living. Mindfulness meditation creates an opportunity to use the gift of life that is the breath, in a way where each inhalation and each exhalation is a reminder that we are living one moment at at time. It has the ability to reduce levels of anxiety, to focus our attention, build resilience and boost our immunity. There is a growing and robust scientific evidence base to support its effectiveness. I’m with Raheem Sterling. C’mon on England!