I have Google set up to send me articles about body/mind topics, and sometimes links come along that I never would have found on my own. Like this little gem from the Times of Swaziland (Swaziland!).
It’s a fairly simple article on mindfulness, but I found its messages to be particularly poetic and true. Some highlights:
“Even though we may not understand life, we should savour it.”
“We are not really in search of meaning but, rather, moments of ‘aliveness.’”
“As we allow our innate imagination and creativity to lead the way, we start to process our lives and understand just how ‘fictional’ we really are. We become characters in our own story, we create and witness our own past; not with judgment but with compassion.”
“Mindfulness is living as if every moment really matters, through continuous, non-judgmental, awareness. A simple way to bring your attention to the present is to ask yourself from time to time, ‘am I awake right now?'”
That last one is a question I want to be asking myself continually these days: am I awake right now? Am I aware of what my body is experiencing, what my mind is thinking about, what my heart is yearning for or peaceful about or sorrowing over? Am I experiencing this moment?
This morning I’m sitting alone in an apartment, working mostly in natural light. A gorgeous breeze is working its way over wood surfaces, through the blades of a ceiling fan, and onto me. I’m going to need to go to the bathroom soon. My shoulders and neck are a little tense, probably because I’m working with my laptop actually on my lap. I was distracted by at least three other things while attempting to write this paragraph. Make that four.
This last part seems especially important: attention, the first step to mindfulness, seems at a premium these days. There are too many things to do, too little time to do them in, and too many other things clamoring for our focus. And divided focus is ultimately no focus at all.
Yet we get things done. We muddle through. We accomplish things, or at least, complete them. We do our jobs, love our families, manage our homes, if we have all of those things. But mindfulness, besides all of its other well-researched benefits, maybe can help us enjoy it all a bit more.
Am I awake right now?
Almost. Part of my head is planning the rest of my day and getting all stressed and confused about it. I still have to go to the bathroom. I’m trying to maintain a conversation over Google Chat about plans for the weekend. Definitely awake, definitely conscious, but divided.
We seem to live in a world of division. Divided attention, divided selves. Even in my work we talk about body, mind, emotions and spirit, as if they were really four different things – because we have a goal of integrating them, getting them all moving in the same direction. It’s the tradeoff for all the amazing benefits of human consciousness that we constantly live in this divide: we are always simultaneously living and observing ourselves living, being physically present in one place but mentally present somewhere else, feeling the complex, multilayered pull of all of our parts.
I do it again: am I awake right now?
What about now?