Mindfulness is crucial to humans and their unlimited power. One of the things that we can all benefit from is learning how to be in the moment.
The other day, I was sitting on my front stoop enjoying a pleasantly warm afternoon. The rough concrete steps were a bit uncomfortable, but the sights and sounds of summer soon coming to an end seemed to drown out my discomfort.
I gazed at the young couple across the street. They were out with their little one, she is just learning to walk. They were all laughing and playing, their dog barking, the baby taking a few more steps and then flopping down on her bum. Over and over again she flopped down and got back up. I could hear her giggling from across the street. It made me smile. Mom and dad were pointing things out to the baby and encouraging her to touch a leaf, watch the deer nearby, and look up at the sky.
I sat there smiling remembering a time, not all that long ago, when my kids were wee ones. When we moved to this neighborhood 15 years ago, our children were 12, 10, and 8 years old. At that time, there was an elderly couple in that very house across the street. The lady’s name was Emma. We talked quite a bit and many a day she sat on her own stoop or stood in the window with the curtain slightly drawn back, watching us play with our children in the front yard. We were always out there with the kids—whether it was Frisbee, baseball, football, kick-the-can, freeze tag, or whatever the game of choice was that day. The air was always filled with giggling, laughter, red, sweaty faces. Our street was mostly elderly folks, so we were the go-to house for the few neighbors who also had young children.
One day Emma and I were chatting outside by our mailboxes. With a smile on her face, she said, “Oh how I love watching the children play, it reminds me of long ago when mine were little. That was such a long time ago, but I so enjoy watching them now. You are such good parents–always taking time to enjoy your family. That’s important.” She began to both smile and tear up as I walked her back to her porch from the end of the driveway.
I realized as I sat this day on my front stoop: I am now Emma.
I am now the one pulling those memories from the recesses of my mind, memories I have tucked away. I see them in a different light now all these years later.
Back then I was tired and mostly heard the bickering over everything. I heard the “I’m hot,” “I’m tired,” “I’m bored.”
At the time, I didn’t see it like Emma did from the window with the curtain pulled slightly back. But now, as I sit watching from across the street, I see my memories as Emma saw them.
I see the good times, I hear the laughter, and I remember days of old differently. Perhaps in the way, I should have seen them in the first place.
I am so happy that I took a few moments for myself today and sat down on that hard, concrete stoop. I learned something about myself because I let myself be absorbed in a moment. Just one moment.
I wonder 20 years from now what I will see when I draw back the curtain?
What Will I See When I Pull Back the Curtain? Your Unlimited Power Hidden in The Now
Practicing mindfulness, or being in the moment, is not difficult and you can do it anytime, anywhere. There are things we do every day that can help us learn to be in the moment.
Exercises in Being in the Present Moment:
How many times do we pass by something, like a flower, and think about how beautiful it is? We are aware of the flower. At the same time, we are aware of it, we also have a bunch of other thoughts swirling through our mind. Our thoughts flit in and out of our minds like fireflies in the darkness of night. Appearing here and there for just a moment and then fading off. We are aware of things and life around us, but generally, we are not mindful.
Being mindful is the act of paying attention—on purpose. Take a moment and involve your senses in your experience. Feel the droplets of dew on the petals, smell the scent, hear the wind, see the vibrant color. Sure you will still have those swirling thoughts coming in and out, but just bring your focus back. When you let yourself experience life through mindfulness, you are also learning to enjoy fully that which is around you. You will train yourself to let those fleeting thoughts go (and not dwell upon them.)
When washing the dishes, focus on your senses. Feel the silky soap on your fingers, smell the clean scent coming from the sink, listening to the water flowing over the pans as you rinse. Watch the soap bubbles escape into the air. When we focus on the one thing we are doing, we are being present at that moment.
When you are taking a walk, listen to your footsteps as your shoe hits the ground. Listen to the sounds that fill the air. Feel the wind upon your cheek. Pay attention to the smell of the air and your breath coming in and going out.
Of course, you are going to have thoughts of your day trying to break your focus, which is normal. The important thing is that you snap yourself back into the moment by returning your focus to the experience. Go back to your senses and let them help you remain present.
When you practice this daily, you will train your mind to be able to come out of a stressful situation more quickly and readily than you would have if you didn’t know how to be mindful. You will learn to let go of the stressful situations and fill that space with healthier thoughts.
Why is this important? Because you are strengthening your well-being. You are learning how to pull yourself from a slump. You are learning that you do not have to remain sad, or angry, or mad, or jealous, or fearful. You can focus your energy on something good, and positive, and healthier.
Learning to be present in the moment is something you need to practice daily. The good thing is, you can do it at home with the surroundings you currently have. All the tools you need—you already have.