I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of mindfulness. Basically, it refers to the idea that you focus on being in the moment. You try to notice the details involved with whatever you are doing in the present, instead of thinking about or replaying the past, or becoming worried about or preoccupied with the future. You are training your brain to actually experience each moment as it comes instead of multi-tasking and missing out on the simple things in life.
There are exercises that you can do to help you practice mindfulness. Let’s say you are taking a walk. Start with engaging your senses. Notice how things look around you, what the air smells like, how the breeze or the heat feels, and what sounds you hear. Try to “write down” what you are noticing in your head. Note each observation as you go along. This enables you to see the full picture of this scene in your day and in your life. In theory, it brings greater happiness to have the ability to focus on the present.
The ultimate example of appreciating these simple things comes when I am interacting with my children. When I am holding my baby, I look at the expression on his face. I notice how wide his smile is, how his eyebrows lift slightly when he’s excited, the way his chubby, squishy legs feel, and observe how they bend in order to make himself bounce when he hears music. I breathe in his baby smell; a mixture of baby shampoo, baby detergent, slobber, milk, and the other mysterious components of new human smell. The realization comes to me: this is a remarkably sweet moment.
In practicing mindfulness with my children, I realize that I don’t want to forget these things. I don’t want to miss these moments. These pure, simple, moments. They may not be anything mind-blowing to anyone else, but to me, they are the essence of life. This is my one chance to take it all in. Because when the moment is gone, it’s gone. We always think that there will be another moment if we miss this one. And many times, that is true. But sometimes there isn’t. So whenever I am able and remember to be mindful of my surroundings, I try to stay there. I try not to wander. I try not to worry. I try not to analyze things that I can’t change. I’m simply there.