Presence of mind versus living in the present

The idea of mindfulness has been around in western culture for a while now. But I wonder – do we really get it? Sure, we know what it is to be in the moment, we have that level of awareness. But I wonder about the gap between self-awareness and our ability to shift our state.

After we realise we don’t feel great today, or we haven’t stopped to smell the flowers… what do we actually do about it?

How many times have you caught yourself rushing about and been mindful of the situation. You noticed yourself doing something that you would probably like to change, and you consciously noted that behaviour. This is great, but really it is only the first step.

The part that we often miss is the follow through. You’ve noticed the rushing – so what are you able to do about it?

I know I’ve quoted Richard Branson on this before –
“We are human beings, not human doings.”
But I feel it’s worth saying again. So many of us have been swept along with the ‘achievement culture’ that we have stopped knowing how to just BE.

We pile so much on our plates; from family responsibilities to personal goals, that we leave little time for enjoying our existence in a natural, spontaneous way.

Of course, mindfulness isn’t only about noting when we are in a negative place. It is just as much about noticing the good things in our day. We might notice the sun pouring in through the window, or hear the birds singing in the morning. The catch is that we have to stand still for long enough to notice.

If you want to benefit more from the art of mindfulness, I think it makes sense to plan a little empty space into your daily diary.  It’s the quiet moments when we slow down enough to do just one thing at a time, such as walk through a park or sit down with a coffee, that we have the mental bandwidth to appreciate the good things around us.

Autumn is a great time for spotting nature out of your window. The squirrels are running around gathering acorns and my cats couldn’t be any more entertained by it.

When did you last sit and watch nature for a few minutes? When I’ve noticed myself rushing around too much I like to take some inspiration from my cats. They are fab at just ‘being’, and I think we could all benefit from a little more of that in our lives.

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