Happy 2018! There are so many new things to be excited about, I almost don’t know where to begin. I am mindful of the gift of each new year, and grateful for a clean slate to meditate, practice yoga, learn, explore, love, play, write, expand, transform, share and travel the path of joy.
Instead of making resolutions, I am setting my intentions for 2018 based on one word. My word for 2018 is “Mindfulness”.
There are no shortage of positive thinking and mindfulness memes around. Social media, advertising and products coalescing around the idea that we are all interconnected and that “being present” is a personal imperative, in parenting, in business, in all relationships. It is generally accepted that what we give our attention and focus to blossoms, positive or negative, so it is best to be mindful and more deliberate with our voices, our actions and our thoughts. For some, this is not news, for others this idea is mildly revolutionary. Most of us have some idea of the concept and the importance of being an active participant in our destiny. In some cases it connects to spiritual practice and religion and for others it is a loose guide to daily living, like modern day commandments. Without a doubt, there seems to be an awakening of sorts happening with the focus on mindfulness.
What does mindfulness actually mean? Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and the first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. She is the author of eleven books and more than two hundred research articles written for general and academic readers on mindfulness for over 35 years. Dr. Langer has been described as the “mother of mindfulness” and has written extensively on the illusion of control, mindful aging, stress, decision-making, and health. She has described mindfulness as the opposite of mindlessness. Meaning, people are generally and often “not there”. We aren’t even there enough to know that we aren’t there. Mindfulness is state of being, a manner of living that is deliberate. When we are living in a state of mindfulness, simply put we are present. We are deliberate. We notice people and things. We are in a state of curiosity and learning in such a manner that we can savor, enjoy and delight in the ordinary as opposed to being on auto pilot, waiting for the next carefully planned extraordinary moment. In a society that literally celebrates life in a series of 140 character interactions, disappearing social media “stories”, carefully posed photos and snap-chat moments, living mindfully is not as easy as it seems.
Dr. Langer and others are now lining up with eastern and ancient traditions that have always maintained that how we fare in our professional, personal and interpersonal relationships and in society at large is connected to our level of mindful living. Eastern and now western healers alike know that increased mindfulness results in better mental and physical health, overall satisfaction, a feeling of well-being and of course, happiness. Further, when we become more mindful we are less critical, less judgmental, less prone to anger and depression. Conversely we are more open, connected, empathetic, sympathetic and innovative. Just plain happier and happier more of the time. Living in a more mindful and deliberate manner simply put is the act of noticing new things. Noticing, taking notice that you are noticing, examining and becoming engaged brings us into the present moment. When we are present in the moment, energy is focused on learning and feeling and engaging, rather than on comparing, judging, consuming and collecting. We are generally in this mindful state when we travel. When we visit new places, we are taking everything in, we expect to see new and exciting things, and in doing so, we slow down, we take notice, we absorb and we feel. We feel energized and happy and present. Mindful living in our daily lives is the act and art of bringing the joy and excitement that we experience when traveling back into our daily experience. “Being present” is the result of mindful living.
What are the benefits of mindful living? Primarily, being present and engaged more of the time has an almost immediate positive effect on our interpersonal relationships. Slowing it down, keeping lists, checking in with ourselves brings a sense of purpose. With a sense of purpose we can move throughout our days and our lives in a more deliberate way. By acting with purpose, deliberately, instead of randomly, we begin to create and become the architect of our own life. By being the active creator of our experience we engage and participate, we begin to be more proactive, thinking ahead and we experience more clarity. Creation brings clarity and clarity frees space. The space we need to create space and time for family, self-care and maybe just to sit down for a lovely chat and a glass of wine with our bestie. Space to plan a night out, pursue a new career, start a passion project, go back to school or plan the next adventure. Space to dream, to play and to be creative. When we have the space to feel happy, dream, plan and create, then we are truly on the path of least resistance. Our highest purpose on the path is joyful living. With deliberate, mindful living we can feel the connection with our true self, with humanity, find our true north, relax into it, exhale and share joy, with clarity and more often. My journey from mindless, random living to mindful living and from happy to joyful has been truly rewarding and it is just beginning. I am so excited to share this journey with you and I am grateful for the opportunity to share it. Thank you my loves for sharing it with me. Super excited to hear yours too. ~ Namaste