Mindfulness is the art of being completely focused on just the present moment. To someone living a busy life, who has always been able to juggle multiple things simultaneously, this concept is both appealing and challenging.
When life seems to be increasingly filled with more and more obligations, social functions, online social networks that extends our 'close' friendship group across the world, more stress and long work days I wonder how I can continue to balance everything that life throws at me whilst also practicing mindfulness.
I start to wonder that perhaps the very concept of mindfulness may mean that I have to start reducing the number of balls I am trying to juggle. Oh dear, all of a sudden it doesn't sound very appealing at all! How will I achieve everything that I need to?
I can see the light bulb go on above my own head as I have the thought that mindfulness is actually intended to slow down the pace at which I operate my life (and my family's life given that I manage our family diary). "Perhaps I should consider not doing so much" I ponder to myself.
So the question begs, "Why would I want to do this?"
A recently established not for profit organisation in Australia, Smiling Mind, has a mission is to create accessible, life-long tools based in mindfulness meditation with the goal to create happier, healthier and more compassionate young people. (www.smilingmind.com.au)
This sounds like both an admirable and desirable mission to ME.
Research from a US study has found that students who participated in an 8-week mindfulness course showed, in comparison to a control group:
â€¢ significantly lower levels of stress
â€¢ enhanced concentration
â€¢ enhanced cognitive flexibility
â€¢ enhanced attention, and
â€¢ enhanced empathy and self-awareness. (www.smilingmind.com.au)
So having my interest piqued then being convinced of the merits of the concept of mindfulness, the next step is for me to learn how to achieve it.
My desire to achieve mindfulness is not made any easier by the declaration on www.practicingmindfulness.com that mindfulness is difficult and can be compared to a war when considering all the noise we are battling to suppress (both inside our heads and in our surrounding environment).
Oh no. I thought mindfulness was going to make my life easier, not harder!
Perhaps on a more positive note, www.practicingmindfulness.com goes on to recommend four steps for people to progress through if they wish to ultimately achieve mindfulness. They are:
1. relaxation techniques
2. quite the mind
3. mindfulness exercises, and
4. guided meditation.
At this point I realise that a great deal of effort is required, and far more research, for me to fully understand mindfulness and how I can achieve it. I am not sure I have the time or the energy for this.
I have also realised that through the practice of mindfulness I am far more likely to create a space in my mind and life to listen to what God is saying to me.
After all He tells us in the bible "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46 verse 10. Perhaps mindfulness isn't such a modern concept after all and perhaps it does not need to be as difficult to achieve as some people would suggest.
Merewyn Foran is married, a step mother to two daughters and a fundraising and communications consultant to not for profit organisations in Melbourne.
Merewyn Foran's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/merewyn-foran.html