For a long time, I’ve used the term with clients and in writing. I’ve said that, when it comes down to it , whatever “it” is -happiness, joy, success, or peace – mindfulness is what it’s all about.
But what is mindfulness? Is it just a secularized and trendy term for meditation? Is it something you have to take a class to study? Is there a right way to practice it? Is there a wrong way?
I came to living a mindful life through many avenues. I began meditating in 1990 and, not long after, tried Hindu Devotional Singing and yoga. All these practices – grounded though they were in Eastern traditions that were foreign to me – gave me feelings of peace, joy and a true self that I couldn’t find any other way.
But as I became more experienced, I discovered that mindfulness can be experienced while doing anything with the proper attention: knitting, dancing, listening to music, making love.
Mindfulness implies focus, thoughtfulness and introspection. It moves slowly – not at the speed of light – and sometimes it doesn’t move at all. Though the mindful individual is only doing one thing (or seemingly no-thing) at a time, the results may be more productive than those of a devoted multi-tasker.
Mindfulness is not inherently religious or spiritual, but frequently leads to experiences of awe and unity that are common to both.
Mindfulness is no more the property of ancient tradition than breathing or eating, but somewhere along the line, in our modern world, the values it imparts had been dismissed and fallen out of favor .
My dedication to a mindful life has often made me feel out of step, though apparently – according to TIME magazine and Arianna Huffington and almost everywhere else you look these days – it’s back in vogue.