Where are you right now? What are you doing? If you are anything like I have been most of my life, your answers are going to be surface, cursory ones. I’m at work and filing, I am at school and learning, I am at home and cooking. This is the level of thinking about where we are at any given time that we have learned. So much of our attention and thought has been trained to either be reviewing the past or preparing for the future. These are both good things to do, but it is leaving one aspect of our life to operate under autopilot, our present.
The place where we are, right now, has more impact on the rest of our lives than anything in the future will or anything in the past has. This is simple because the now defines how we see those things and how decide to move forward. It is the now that defines where we are headed from moment to moment and in the bigger picture of things.
If the present has such an impact on us, why do we leave that important job to the automated portion of our mind? Because it is easy and frees up our mind and resources for other thing? But what other things? News, social media, the songs over the radio? This isn’t a way to live out a fulfilling life. Instead we need to develop the skill to really be in the moment we are in, to really feel and experience everything about that moment. This is what it means to practice mindfulness, the ability to be in the moment and to experience where we are at any given point.
Now why is this practice so important to us? It comes down to perception and intent. We have talked about the effect that our perception has on our lives and the way we see the world. Intent is much the same in that it defines how we plan to interact with that world and bring our dreams to fruition. Intent is not a game plan, but on overarching drive that we set for ourselves. The simple fact of humans is that our perception and our intent change constantly and are as much as product of our immediate physical and mental state as they are on a cerebral decision making process. That means that the moment we are in can affect the basic tools we use to make the world into the place that we want it to be. Yet, we leave the understanding of those moments to the back of our mind when we should be a cognizant of them as we are or our intent and perceptions as they will all affect one another.
It is time to state taking ourselves off of autopilot when it comes to the present. We need to learn how to be in the moment and make decisions and plans based off that understanding of ourselves. If you are filing something, take time to really feel the paper in your hands. If you are typing, how do the keys feel under your fingers. What is your goal in doing the activity? Do you feel a sense of accomplishments when you finish each task? If so, enjoy that feeling! Focus on it and embrace that you did indeed finish that task.
We need to develop our mindfulness and exercise it in our daily lives. To do this, take some time today to stop what you are doing and look inside yourself. Take note of where you are on a mental and physical level. Take a look at the emotions running through you and how they are affecting your current outlook. Take note all the little things that are acting on you in that moment. Once you have done that, make a mental choice on which ones are serving you and which ones are just reactions.
Now the hard part, try to let the reactions and detrimental portions fall away and leave you in the space you want to be to move forward. Keep doing this several times a day, preferably in those moments that are the hardest to deal with during the day, whatever they happen to be. With practice it will become an easy exercise and will be another major tool in shaping the way the world is for us.