Buddha was once asked: “What are the teachings of you and your disciples”? He answered: ”We walk, sit and eat. The man who asked the questioned was confused: “But so do I”, he said. The Buddha answered him: “Yes, but when we walk, we know that we walk, and when we sit we know that we sit, and when we eat we know that we eat”
This is to be fully present – the concept of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the art of living right in the centre between future and past – in the present.
It is when body and mind are synchronized
Full presence replaces automatic perceptions of situations with actual experience of the moment.
In an Ashram by the Ganges river we asked a Swami (a master of spiritual practice) how to avoid stress, and he answered: “There is only stress in thinking not in the doing”
Mindfulness is about focusing our thinking to the actions that we do. We have to plan ahead and take responsibility for our own future. But what happens if this becomes our constant state of living? Then we are living in the thoughts and not in our present actions.
Because our bodies do not differentiate between the present situation and the one the mind is living out, we actually live out a stress that is not contributing to solving the situation we are stressing about.
Instead, think about what happens when we leave our every day life for vacation. Then we enter a phase were we start synchronizing our body and mind, enjoy ourselves and stay in our senses. We become aware our surroundings in a curious and conscious way.
If we manage to practice the same presence in our everyday lives we can add a tremendous amount of value that generates energy that we can use for dealing with the situations that stress us.
Being fully present by practicing mindfulness teaches us how to live. So simple – and so hard to practice.
But fact is that life only works with the now. The future will never come. When tomorrow comes it will be today.
So in order to live we need to do it right here and now.
Full presence comes from a synchronized body and mind, which we can all learn to achieve. But it takes practice!
The paths of our mind that leads our thoughts away from the presence, are well walked. This means that to be mindful we need to change our habits.
To act towards becoming more present we must first realize that we are not. We can start out by using one hour, doing whatever we are doing, during which we ask ourselves 10-15 times: “Where am I right now, how am I feeling, what am I sensing?” Then we realize how much of our time and energy we use on not being present- and this is an important step towards becoming more mindful.
Then we can start to train ourselves to be aware of our senses in the moment, using something as simple as an apple.
Next time you eat an apple, do not just take one bite and decide between the two options like or dislike. Instead, look at the apple and realize, that you have never eaten this exact apple before, and therefore it is the very first time you will taste it. Is it shiny, red green, mixed colours? When you bite into the apple, does the juices then run or is it dry? Is it crispy, easy to bite into? How does the fruit meat taste on your tongue, in your mouth? How does it feel in your throat when you sink it? Did you chew it enough or does some rough edges still cut in your throat?
By connecting our mind with the sensations of our body, we practice to be present. And this was only the first bite of the apple.