How do we access the healing we need to release trauma and heartache? How do we free our hearts and minds? How do we learn to forgive each other (and ourselves) for fucking up a lot of the time? How do we balance the pain and the joy of living this human life?
Well, this one tool is the first thing we need.
The tool is something that’s as ancient as humanity and goes by many names.
Mindfulness. Sati. Focused attention. Conscious awareness in the present moment. The opening of one’s conscious awareness to include physical sensations, emotions, thoughts and external factors, practiced with gentleness and precision.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll just call this concept “mindfulness”. It’s not a perfect term as it seems to prioritize the mind where in actuality the practice helps to place the mind into a much more harmonious position along with gut instincts, emotions, intuition, sensations of the body, heart and mind and the multi-dimensional kaleidoscope of external stimuli.
I first learned about “mindfulness” in the late 1990s while studying theater arts at university. There was something fascinating, something familiar, and something deathly BORING about it… Through the next couple of decades, I’ve taken a deep dive into the concept of mindfulness, but more importantly into the PRACTICE of mindfulness.
When we think of mindfulness most of us think of meditation. And that isn’t wrong at all. Meditation is wonderful. And highly useful. However, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that for a variety of intersectional reasons a lot of us are deeply uncomfortable with the formal seated practice of meditation. There is much to unpack there and it might be fodder for another article. For now, I want to focus not on the problem but on the solution.
If the tool we need to access is mindfulness, can we access it in other ways besides meditation?
The good news that I (and countless other spiritual seekers) discovered is that YES, there is indeed a multitude of ways to practice mindfulness without meditation. It’s easy. And it’s fun.
Mindfulness in carving out space for Self Care.
Mindfulness of our thoughts – noticing habitual patterns of lack, self-deprecation and negativity. Mindfulness in Activism. Mindfulness in Business. Mindfulness in Love. Parenting. Aging. Death.
Name any issue we humans face in the course of our lives, from illness to celebration and I’ll bet ya that mindfulness adds a special ZING, that little something extra, the missing piece of the puzzle, the oomph, the mmmm, the ooh-la-la.
Mindfulness allows us to stay calm in the midst of difficulty and struggle.
Mindfulness helps to grow our positive qualities, our creativity, our daring, our insights, our truth.
Mindfulness increases our joys and makes our sorrows more bearable.
The lessons we learn when we apply mindfulness to the mundane and the profound in our lives are deeper and more potent.
And best of all, it’s so easy. Mindfulness is actually the foundation we need for the most important things in life.
Take one minute. Tune in to yourself. And just notice. Notice sensations in the body. Notice feelings in the heart. Notice thoughts in the mind. Without judging or prioritizing one aspect over another. Notice your breath.
Did you do it?
See? I told you it was easy!
It doesn’t actually feel like you’re “doing” much at all. Which is true.
In essence when we practice mindfulness we are returning to our original state. We are coming back to our primordial humanness.
This being human…. It’s sweet. It’s bitter. It’s sour. It’s intense. The flavors are so nuanced and so potent.
Our spiritual transformations must begin with a solid foundation of mindfulness. Otherwise, they won’t last.
It’s easy. But it does require practice.
Margarita M of Fierce Divine Life teaches on wholeness and holyness, a real embodied divinity, connecting to the fire the source within.
If you have any specific questions about mindfulness, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s one of my favorite topics!