"I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen."
Mindfulness is a practice that is deeply rooted in a myriad of spiritual traditions. Phychology Today defines mindfulness as "a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience."
Psychiatrist, Neurologist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl once said "In between stimulus and response there is a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
If the mindful pause is so potentially transformational, how can we train in this technique? The good news is that much of our mindfulness training can be done in the normal moments of our daily lives.
One of my favorite quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh states, "While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly: Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that's precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There's no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves."
Mindfulness can be practiced in our most mundane of tasks. While washing the dishes, or going for an early springtime walk, or playing with a child, or flowing through sun salutations, we can be distracted and attention-scattered, or we can make a choice to pause and gently invite a fully engaged presence that observes and experiences every moment.
For a more formal mindfulness practice, check out some of my favorite resources:
http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html (free audio downloads from an incredible guide)
Insight timer (an app you can download with great guides meditations)
Mindful.org (all around, great general resource)
We are excited to share many wonderful classes and experiences with you on the riverfront in Harrisburg, and hope to see many more as the weather warms up. Please join us as we celebrate our new location this coming Saturday, March 7, at our official grand opening. It has been a long and brutal winter, and we are ready to party! We are thankful for the support from our community as we continue to share the yoga love in central PA. See you at Om!