In today’s busy world multitasking is the order of the day. We drive down to work, attending calls and planning our day. We come back home and eat dinner watching TV, supervising our kids’ homework. In this rush to accomplish various tasks somewhere we are losing out on the delicate connection with the present moment. We are simply not aware of what we are doing and how we are feeling in the moment.
Mindfulness: Awareness of the ‘Now’
Simply put, mindfulness is just the awareness of whatever is happening ‘right now’. It is the awareness and non judgemental acceptance of ‘What Simply Is”. Not categorizing experiences as pleasant or unpleasant or good or bad, but just observing them. It is important to note that there is nothing so great about being mindful. All it seeks to imply is being with our experience moment to moment. Practicing mindfulness is simple. You might be simply bathing. Just being aware of the moment when the water touches your body, the smell of the soap, the feel of the soap on the skin and the shower water trickling all over. Whatever your feeling is, simply notice it and accept it. Just the awareness of every moment! Bathing is only one example. Any activity of daily life can be practiced with mindfulness. You might sweep a floor, wash dishes, play with your pet, eat your meal, or do any number other ordinary activities, slowly and mindfully.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Scientists are now noting and documenting various advantages of Mindfulness including improvements in physical and mental health and overall well being.
- Improves physical health – The practice of mindfulness helps alleviate several physical ailments.
- Keeps blood pressure in control
- Helps reduce pain
- Releases stress
- Improves the quality of sleep
- Improves mental health - Mindfulness helps to keep negative emotions like anxiety, stress and depression away and helps boost positivity, enthusiasm and overall state of the mind.
- Improves overall well being – regular practice of mindfulness helps to:
- Gain insight into our own feelings and thoughts.
- Have greater clarity in decision making as well as productivity and results in improved creativity.
- Have more gratitude and spontaneity in life.
The natural question therefore would seem to be how to develop this mindfulness. How to consciously become more and more aware of the present moment? This is where the yoga and breathing techniques taught by The Art of Living help. The physical yoga postures taught in the Art of Living Yoga Course and pranayams and the Sudarshan Kriya taught in the Part 1 Course help an individual to stay more and more in the present moment through awareness of the breath and the release of unwanted toxins and stress from the system.
From the Scenery to the Seer
Mindfulness is meditative awareness. It is bringing back attention to one’s own self, from the scenery to the seer. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of The Art of Living says, “The shift from scenery to the seer happens with yoga. It happens with Ujjai breath and meditation. It brings up an ocean of compassion within you. It makes the intellect sharp and attentive. You become more intuitive and aware. You become friendlier and more confident.”
Taking time out for yoga or meditation in our everyday life can help us stay mindful and significantly improve the overall quality of our lives.