I have been reading and researching extensively about mindfulness (Clearly, “Mindful Librarian”). It’s everywhere! Although this is heartening on one level, it concerns me as well. We are not purely individual. We are all energetically connected. I feel that the spread of mindfulness, in the way it has been practiced by masters of old, has the potential to radically change our society for the better.
So what is my concern? Let’s think of “mindfulness” by the very simple definition of living fully in the present moment, calmly accepting and releasing thoughts, feelings, baggage from the past, and fear of the future. These techniques can and are used in military combat training. A villain committing a crime can in fact be “mindful” as a means of focusing and completing his job.
In order for mindfulness to really transform our society for the better we must not fail to attach the principles of compassion, gratitude, and self-love.
When listening to others, don’t merely hear them while your mind wanders. Really LISTEN and perceive what they are trying to convey. Don’t only hear the words, but check for physical cues that could be driving their message. Are they angry? Nervous? Distracted? Project loving kindness toward those you encounter.
When you consciously focus on the present with all of your senses, do so with appreciation. In nature, I find this to be easy. But even at work in my library I try to take a few moments to be consciously mindful and grateful to have this job at all, and grateful to have this forum for reaching and teaching kids. Being mindful of your physical self should produce feelings of gratitude for all of your senses and life itself.
Effective mindfulness will automatically affect your level of self care. When you eat mindfully, you stop when full and consciously make healthy food choices. You recognize when your body needs rest and try not to push it when you don’t have to. Being present enables one to be free of guilt by not fixating on the past. The act of meditating itself, results in a wealth of benefits for self on mental, spiritual, and emotional levels.
To conclude, in order to achieve and share the greatest benefits of mindfulness, consider others, have a grateful attitude, and be gentle with yourself.