The Art of Mindfulness

While studying my undergraduate, I took a psychology course, which intrigued my thinking style. The course was taught by a professor who studied Shamanism. One of the practices of the Shamans is being “mindful”. What does “mindful” behavior mean?

According to Wikipedia:

Mindfulness (Sanskritsmṛti; also translated as awareness) is a spiritual or psychological faculty that, according to the teaching of the Buddha, is considered to be of great importance in the path to enlightenment. It is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. “Correct” or “right” mindfulness is the seventh element of the noble eightfold path. Mindfulness meditation can also be traced back to the earlier Upanishads, part of Hindu scripture

Why is this important?

The act of being mindful can reduce stress and anxiety simply by concentrating on one task. This simple habit is actually very difficult. We live in a world where employers want “multi-taskers”; we carry computers and cell phones, which require our mind to constantly be working. Our world has been taken over by multi-taskers! So many deaths occur because people are not concentrating on JUST driving.

Does our new technological devices allow us to be mindful? Ever been on a date and noticed your date is trying to have a conversation with you at the same time buy/sell stocks? In the exaggerated caption below, I put “sex” in the center, because most men I talk to say that they think about this several times a day. So, are these men being mindful while they are at work, or are they also thinking about sex?

As a healer, being mindful is extremely important. If I didn’t listen to my patients, I could miss out on important facts about their health. What good of a healer am I if I cannot even give my patient’s 100% of my attention? I’ll admit, it is difficult to do this every day and at times I fail. I still see myself as the student in my psychology class learning about mindfulness and trying to practice the art everyday.

How do you become mindful?

I’ll admit, trying to concentrate on one task is difficult. Every morning I meditate. Out of my entire day, this is the most difficult thing to do because my mind is racing with which patients am I seeing today? Did my daughter take her lunch to school? Did I remember to pay my bills? Did I email my friend back ?

Who doesn’t have a busy schedule, BUT we need to STOP for a minute or few to clear our mind.

Trying to change our ways of everyday life and becoming mindful is not something that happens overnight. It is a process. First, we can start by performing one task “mind-fully” each day. Then gradually start to add more tasks in the day and eventually you will notice that you are able to concentrate on each task throughout the day, giving 100% attention.

One of my favorite quotes which reminds me to be “mindful”

“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Monk

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamanism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness

http://www.mindfulnessquotes.org

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Nhat_Hanh

mirvacu_h6dybmThe Art of Mindfulness