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The language of well-being: Mindful moments

“Do you meditate?” asks a neighbor innocently. If he means sitting uncomfortably cross-legged on a mat with a hard cushion tucked under my behind, trying to quiet my chattering ‘monkey mind,’ trying to stop thinking for a few seconds, then my reply has to be, “Not often.” But if he means minding the moment, attending to what’s alive in me, happening right now, like listening to birdies in my garden? Then, “Yes” I say, “I meditate every day.”

Mindfulness is my go-to centering practice. It’s about acquiring the habit of “being here now,” present, awake, engaged with whatever is happening in this precious moment of being alive. It’s paying attention naturally to breathing, to our five senses, to noticing body sensations while enjoying tasty dark chocolate. Mindful moments mean consciously registering a friend’s smile (or frown!) as we chat. Or remembering I’m behind the wheel when the signal light turns green and not spacing out. Noticing the elderly gent walking towards the bank entrance as I’m exiting, and holding the door open for him so it doesn’t shut in his face. Being present with my actions brings untold benefits and enjoyments. What’s more, any technique, strategy or tool I choose to use will only serve me if I can focus my attention here, now. Yes?

After stumbling through decades of methods to help, soothe, heal or transform myself, I concluded that any intentional practice that creates the experience of openness and spaciousness, that empties me of accumulated crud while filling me with appreciation, joy and wonder is a meditation in my book --and a serious sanity skill. It can be either a traditional still, sitting, yang form of practice, or a dynamic, moving, yin form like tai chi. Or body prayer.

I still remember the last live event I attended. Locating a sunny spot on the large wooden floor in between two other early arrivals, I began my warm-up stretching. Closing my eyes, I found my breath, letting the gentle music move me, letting it play my physical instrument. Emotions loosening, tensions dissolving, I swayed and stretched down through the soles of my yoga feet. I embraced my surroundings, bearing witness, just the soul medicine I needed. Two hours and many dances later, I felt blissfully tranquil. I was at home again in my world and part of a kindred community.

It’s arguably easier to practice mindful meditation in a setting designed to promote it. But what about when somebody’s kid keeps screaming in the aisle behind me at Walmart? Or when I try to multi-task and burn a pot of soup on the stove while leaving the room to check emails? Or locking the door with my keys still inside. Oh, the frustrations and perils of one small, mindless moment…

The rub is, to be a mindful member of the human race, we’ve got to practice every day. I begin with my breathing (make sure I am!) Just notice how it is, staying with that. If a thought, or a physical discomfort or a loud noise distracts, simply (if not easily) I return to the breathing. Repeat. Take that stress recess! Just Be. Whether in the middle of a meeting or an argument, or grocery shopping, or eating breakfast. Minding the moment takes place here and now, where life is actually happening.

Mindful moments bring us home to our true selves. They’re where the real party awaits. My neighbor experiences this with lively bar-b-ques. I prefer lovely rockabye in my hammock, enjoying the songbirds. Mindfulness meditation was proclaimed the “#1 health-booster” in the U.S. back in 2015. Newsweek even put out a special edition on it. America could use a booster dose, right about now. In the meantime, let’s you and I cultivate the play of our moments, let’s be well. Shining deLight, Marcia

Contact Marcia about “mindful meds,” classes, private tutorials, MBSR/MBCT skills to relieve real life anxiety, and BreathEasy practices. or suggest a topic, ask a question.

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