This week’s post is about mindfulness.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t resonate with “how to” articles or books. Even when it comes to cooking, I usually just look at the recipe to get a general idea and then do my own thing. Keeping that in mind, I will explain how I think of mindfulness, give you an example and then leave it for you to adapt to something that makes sense.
Those who have never practiced mindfulness might be wondering what it is. The best way I can explain that is through analogy.
Let’s contrast an actor in a movie with the director. An actor plays a role. To do this, she must study the character, memorize lines, practice the look, get the costuming right and in short, become that character. The director’s job, on the other hand, is to stand back and witness the flow of the movie; the set, the lighting, costumes, camera angles, dialogue, everything. The director notices relationships that sum to a great movie!
Like a director, when practicing mindfulness, we stand back from the role we play (namely “Self”) and simply witnesses the flow of life. We notice things around us, even our own emotional state. We become aware of life, moment by moment. Maybe we see a sunset or the look on another person’s face or perhaps we notice that tension is building in our chest from something that is irritating. Mindful witnessing allows us to take a vacation from “Self” and the compulsive thoughts that rule our life. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, here’s an example I call “Learning to see”:
I love taking pictures. I also love taking walks in rural NW Wisconsin where our cabin is located. So, I combine the two. Each week I take my camera or iPhone and try to notice a change in nature that I can photograph. Sometimes the change is subtle, but there is always something new to experience. Overtime, as I continued this practice, it became apparent that absolutely everything in nature is intimately connected. I had missed that. As I reflected on that, it occurred to me that I too must be part of that connectivity. I started to see the world differently. A door opened to a new level of compassion for things going on around me.
The world is relationship. Meaning is revealed as we witness relationships and how we fit in. Mindfulness practices don’t need to be time consuming. Anything that brings us to the moment, even if for only a minute or two, is beneficial. Here’s an idea if you are interested. Take a screenshot of the word “Witness” and post it to wallpaper on the lock screen of your phone. Then whenever you pick up your phone and see the word, like a movie director, witness your life.
Key Principle: Practicing awareness on a routine basis
Key Question: What are you witnessing now?