When I was studying for my B.A. at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, New York, I took a class called Meditation East and West. In that class we studied the great Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist, Thích Nhất Hạnh, who was a pioneer in the development of western Buddhism and western meditation and brought us the practice of mindfulness.
In Buddhist meditation practices, mindfulness, which is also translated as awareness, is considered to be of great importance on the path to enlightenment. Establishing mindfulness in one's day-to-day life means maintaining a calm awareness of one's body, feelings, thoughts and perceptions. In other words, being present in the moment and paying attention to your senses: being profoundly alert to your senses of touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste, and how you feel at any given moment.
The textbook we used in class was The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thích Nhất Hạnh, and he said to practice mindfulness in all things, including when you’re doing things like washing the dishes; and if you couldn’t do that, then you shouldn’t wash the dishes. I laughed when I read that and I did not buy into mindfulness right away. It wasn’t until many years later that the light bulb finally turned on in my head, and I went back and reread The Miracle of Mindfulness with a much more open mind. Are you ready for the two-part secret to bringing mindfulness to everyday chores like washing dishes?
1. View the chore as a positive event. Make it an exercise in self-understanding and stress relief.
2. As you do the chore, focus on what you’re doing—and nothing else.
A little bit of practice and you'll have these steps down in no time! Meditation is also a great way to practice mindfulness, as is deep breathing, which, of course, you can do while you’re meditating. I asked my pal, the author and intuitive medium Shelly Wilson for her take on mindfulness, awareness, and meditation to round out today's column, and as always, she has gone above and beyond. Here are some thoughts from Shelly, followed by one of her fabulous meditations designed to help us become more mindful and aware:
The best advice I can give you with regard to mindfulness is to practice being mindfully present. The deeper I have delved into my spirituality, the more I have realized the importance of being present - right here, right now. Being mindfully present involves consciously focusing our energy in this present state of being rather than continuously planning the future or dwelling in the past. Choosing to become conscious of being present will heighten awareness so that communication from our higher self and guides becomes easier to hear. Here’s an awareness meditation to help you get started…
- Take a moment to just BE. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your palms up open to receiving. Close your eyes. Relax. Breathe in deeply and exhale.
- Imagine yourself in the most beautiful tranquil place. This is your safe haven, your nirvana, your paradise. Your senses are heightened as you conceptualize this utopia.
- Be mindful of your breaths. Feel your chest expand with the inhalations. Feel your chest deflate with the exhalations. Feel the love you have within you. Allow the essence of you to unfold and surround you.
- This beautiful Divine energy surrounds your being. Allow it to envelop you fully. Open your heart to love. Be thankful for this moment and every moment. Allow this gratitude and love to flow freely through you and around you as you simply breathe.
- Now, open your eyes slowly. Focus your energy on being present and in the now at this very moment. Be observant and become aware of your surroundings yet allow yourself to simply be.
- What do you see?
- What do you feel?
- What do you hear?
- What do you smell?
- Allow yourself to become fully aware and completely present right here right now. Do not allow your mind to wander. Become cognizant of this moment. Breathe in deeply and exhale mindfully. Feel your chest expanding as you breathe in and your chest deflating as you exhale. Feel your heart beating rhythmically as blood is coursing through your veins.
- Notice what you are seeing with your eyes and hearing with your ears. Be fully present and fully aware of your surroundings. All you should feel at this moment is being present. Continue being mindful of your breathing and relax. You are present in this moment.
- Express your gratitude for this opportunity to enhance your awareness. As you continue to be mindful of your breaths, move your fingers and wiggle your toes. Know that you are love and you are loved.
Thank you, Shelly! Dear Readers, Shelly has touched on many important points in this column, and has inspired me to start an Expedite Your Spiritual Growth series, of which today's column is the first wherein we will explore several ways to use our innate power to move ourselves forward. Namaste.
About Shelly Wilson: Intuitive Medium, Reiki Master and Spiritual Teacher Shelly Wilson is standing by to assist you on your spiritual journey. With respect, truth, integrity and love, Shelly honors your free will and recognizes that you are co-creating your reality with the Universe. She offers private readings, intuitive coaching, Reiki sessions, and teaches workshops. Shelly's books, 28 Days to a New YOU and Connect to the YOU Within, are now available. Her courses, Stop Existing and Start Living! and Opening Your Heart to Love are available through the DailyOM. Shelly is the host of The Shelly Wilson Show, which airs live each Wednesday at 2:00 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio. To reach Shelly, please click on the following links:
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