Ralph Waldo Emerson told us – “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
True peace and healing, can be found when you sit alone and quiet your mind. The question is, can you quiet your thoughts enough to sense the life existing in the silence?
I believe that connecting spirituality to mindfulness is easier than most think. The human world is designed to exclude spiritual explorations by keeping our focus on work, play, and other matters, so we won’t think about not living forever. These diversions pull at us to dive into our busy lives. We tell ourselves that questions about spirituality are unknowable anyway, so what difference does it make. However, when we begin to suspend our skepticism, we allow ourselves, even for a moment, to break free into the quiet space of genuine openness. In this space, we can begin to contemplate and perceive what the concept – life is continuous – actually means.
A key factor in your life is making the time to sit by yourself every day. Seek solitude and MINDFULNESS – because it is in this quietness that all deep proofs of spirituality can be witnessed. Real peace and healing can only be discovered when you clear your mind. It is essential that we sharpen our minds in order to go after this peace and find it.
Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment – living in the here and now - observing, watching, examining. Have you ever thought about how busy your mind is and how often you are not present for what is happening in the moment? Our minds have two modes of operation: rehearsing and rehashing. If only we could bottle up all the rehearsing and rehashing we do! We certainly would not have an energy crisis!
When sitting alone, the first step is to teach yourself to drown out the chatter of your mind. Practicing mindfulness. Feel love. Let go of the chattering thoughts, feelings of anger or frustration, or the hurts you think others have caused. When chatter takes you out of the quiet, notice this, and let them go and return to the quiet and love.
The present moment is the only place where life may be fully lived. To live in the here and now, we become more aware of ourselves. Mindfulness is the practice of moment-to-moment observation of the mind-body process through calm and focused awareness without judgement.
As you come to see life as a process of constant change, you can then begin to acknowledge all aspects of experience – pleasure and pain, fear and joy – with less stress and more balance.
Intention is the root of all actions. Our intentions shape our thoughts, words, and actions. Have you ever noticed that if your intentions are pure and good, the results are always fruitful and fulfilling? On the other hand, if our intentions are not pure and good, the results are not so good, are they?
I’d like for you to reflect for a moment on these phrases:
Intention shapes our thoughts and words
Thoughts and words mold our actions
Thoughts, words, and actions shape our behaviors
Behaviors sculpt our bodily expressions
Bodily expressions fashion our character
Our character hardens into what we look like
Mindfulness is a way of learning how to relate directly to your life. It’s your life. No one else can do it for you or tell you exactly how to do it. You already have it within you. You just need to be present. Remember – in the very moment you recognize you are not present, you’ve become present. The moment you see that you’ve been trapped by your thoughts, you gain the freedom to step out of the trap.
As you search for peace and practice Mindfulness, it is important to add an affirmative prayer to your meditation. Declare the peace that you long for, and the clarity about how to pursue your life. Ask and faithfully expect to receive help and guidance. State what you want. Go deeper into your spirituality. The activating force here is gratitude. Conjure up an authentic emotional feeling of gratitude, and this will set your faith.
Mindfulness is a way of life. It can be practiced in two ways – formally and informally. Formal practice means taking time out of each day to intentionally sit, stand, or lie down and focus on the breath, bodily sensations, sounds, other senses, or thoughts and emotions. Informal practice involves bringing mindful awareness to daily activities, such as eating, exercising, chores, relating to others, and basically any action, whether at work, at home, or anywhere else you find yourself.
You miss out on so much of your life if you are consumed with anticipation of the future or reflection about the past. Once you become more mindful of your inner state – your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and mental processes – you will start to sleep better, be more able to cope with stressful situations, improve your self-esteem, renew your enthusiasm for life and work – and generally just feel better.
To go deeper into your spirituality, you must separate the chatter of your ego. Your ego is the automatic thought or reaction you have, without thinking. It is the part of you that is determined to survive and prosper – the part of you that strives to avoid certain outcomes. By practicing Mindfulness in your daily life, you can recognize and separate yourself from the behaviors or thoughts which are being led by your ego so you can connect with your higher self. Pursuing this connection changes the way you observe your life and the decisions you make.
I’m going to walk you through a quick three-minute practice to give you a taste of mindfulness: the mindful check-in. This practice will help you to recognize how you are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. It will help you to re-center yourself in the present moment.
Close your eyes. Sit with your feet on the floor, and your back straight against the chair. Take a few moments to be still.
Begin this mindful check-in by feeling into your body and mind and simply allowing any waves of thought, emotion, or physical sensation to just be.
Perhaps this is the first break you’ve taken amidst a busy day. As you begin to enter the world of being rather than doing, you may notice the trajectory of the feelings that you’ve been carrying within yourself.
There is no need to judge, analyze, or figure things out. Simply allow yourself to be in the here and now, amidst everything that is present in this moment. Spend about three minutes simply checking in with yourself in this way.
As you come to the end of this mindful check-in, congratulate yourself for doing this practice and contributing to your health and well-being.
How do you feel?
It is important to remember that thoughts and emotions are interconnected with the physical process of the body. When you feel yourself becoming stressed over a situation, your body produces hormones such as cortisol and neurotransmitters such as epinephrine. The fight, flight, or freeze response can occur due to being stuck in traffic, feeling overwhelmed at work, or worrying about finances or health. How we respond has less to do with the actual event than how we make meaning of the event. Your health suffers, as energy is taken away from your immune system – leaving you less able for your body to function properly.
The practice of moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness brings focus to whatever is happening in the moment. It is only in the present moment that you can make changes. Mindfulness helps you to become aware of what is imbalanced and come to recognize unconscious habitual tendencies, and then you can begin to make new choices that promote well-being and balance. Practicing mindfulness causes healthy changes in your brain. It helps you to become more focused and at peace.
By choosing to become mindful throughout the day, you can bring greater focus and appreciation to whatever situation you find yourself in. As you continue to grow in mindfulness, you’ll see the potential for informal practice in any situation. Here are some suggestions for informal ways to weave mindfulness into your day:
As you open your eyes in the morning, instead of jumping right out of bed, take a few moments to do a mindful check-in. This will set the stage for a greater sense of calm and balance during challenging moments throughout your day.
As you bathe, notice if your mind is already thinking, planning, and rehearsing for the day. When you become aware of this, gently bring your mind back to the moment of just being in the shower, smelling the soap, feeling the sensation of the water on your body, and listening to the sound of the water in the shower.
As you approach your car, walk more slowly, check in with your body, and notice any tension. Try to soften the tension before you begin your drive.
As you are driving, find opportunities to drive a little slower. Use red lights as a reminder to notice your breathing.
Walking is something we definitely tend to do on autopilot. As you walk to your office or run errands, walk differently. Walk more slowly, or breathe in for three steps, and then breathe out for three steps. Notice the sensation of walking – in your feet and throughout your body.
Once a week, have a meal by yourself in silence, eating slightly slower than you usually do, and really tune in to flavors and textures as you eat.
Throughout the day, do mindful check-ins.
Practicing alone can be difficult. I encourage you to connect with others for support and motivation in order to benefit from their insights. This will help you to maintain and deepen your mindfulness practice.
When you feel disconnected, remember to start from the beginning. Be still in the quiet and prayerfully affirm with gratitude that you will step back into this wonderful, connected life, and you will continue to awaken and enlighten your spirituality.