Developing Mindfulness this Year

Developing Mindfulness this Year

Thumbnail image by Phu Nguyen from Pixabay

By Jan Larraine Cox 

May I be safe and protected. 

May I be free of mental suffering or distress. 

May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease… 

These are loving phrases of kindness for yourself that you can then visualize for all beings of the world: May all beings be happy; may all beings be healthy and strong. 

Followed by deep and cleansing breaths, you are on your way to a mindful day. Breathe deeply, in through your nose for a count of five, then out through your nose for a count of five, inhaling and expelling as much air as you can.  Maintain that rhythm for 10 minutes. 

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness can balance our mind and feelings as we fully focus on whatever we are doing in the present moment: cooking, cleaning, reading, watching the waves hit the edge of the beach, watching the seagulls swoop. 

Our attention is directed at what we are doing instead of all the other things we could or should be doing.  If those thoughts naturally arise, let them pass by without following them to take your attention.   

Image by Berkan Küçükgül from Pixabay

We can’t change the past; by living in a mindful way, we can experience more of the world’s beauty in the here and now.  With calm contentment we can build confidence in our own worth, which delivers a happier outlook on our life. 

We can value silence for more than the absence of sound, but for the opportunity to release emotions so they don’t control us—free to be fully aware of the moment and appreciate the details of the present, responding thoughtfully, rather than automatically, to life’s events. 

Author Wendy Hobson writes there are specific personal advantages to stilling the mind in regular meditation: enjoyment of your own life moment by moment; further understanding your own strengths and weaknesses; ability to forgive yourself and others for mistakes; development of deep listening and observation, rather than simply hearing.  

Hobson points out that studies show the seat of memory, the hippocampus, becomes denser in those who meditate.  Simultaneously, there is a decrease in tdensity of the amygdala, which is the source of fear and overstress.  Studies also show that meditation improves the brain’s ability to protect against age-related memory loss, for a mere 10-minute investment per day.  

Image by Lars_Nissen from Pixabay

Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh asks the question “What better way to start the day than with a smile?”  Your soft half-smile affirms your “awareness and determination to live in peace and joy…the source of a true smile is an awakened mind…a bird singing or the sunlight streaming into your room helps you approach the day with gentleness and understanding.” 

He continues, “I have arrived in the present moment, because only the present moment contains life.  When I breathe in and take refuge in my in-breath, I touch life deeply. 

“Stopping running is very important.   Instead of believing peace, happiness, and success are present in some other place and time, we can arrive at each moment in our true home, deeply situated at the address of life—the intersection of here and now!  We discover life’s wonders and our regrets and sorrows disappear,” says Hanh. 

For more information see:  

The Essential Book of Mindfulness: Healing Through Being Present,” by Wendy Hobson, Arcturus Holdings Limited, 2020.                                                      

Happiness,” by Thich Nhat Hanh, Parallax Press, 2009.