by Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
The phrases "mindfulness" and
"being present in the moment" may
be new for many of you. The concept is not new.
"Take time to smell the roses"
is a phrase often used for reminding us to take
pleasure in the simple things in life. It is so
easy to be worried about the future to regret
our past or to be so absorbed with what has to
be done or that which isn’t getting done,
that we forget to "be" —
we forget that the only time that we really have
is now. We can become so focused on our responsibilities
that we lose the awareness of the wonder that
our children are, that our families, are, that
we are. We can take for granted or even forget
that our very breath and ability to move and to
respond emotionally are miracles. We can become
so absorbed in the doing that we lose the sense
of self that is the experience.
Practice mindfulness. Living a mindful life will
become more natural with practice. Become aware
of yourself as you perform the tasks of the day
from brushing your teeth and washing the dishes
to sharing your meals, helping with homework and
reciting evening prayers.
Be aware of feelings: happiness, sadness, joy,
pain, fear, relaxation. Realize that the difficult,
or "bad" feelings are just as much a
part of life as the easy or "good" feelings.
Each task, each experience, regardless of how
seemingly mundane is important. The sum of these
tasks and experiences defines your life. Open
your eyes and see — open your ears and hear
— open your heart and feel — open your
mind and know. Expand yourself as your experience
of yourself increases.
Plan to take time from your day or take a day
from your week and become more aware and mindful
of the moment. As you go about your day be
aware of each experience and feeling. Try
this with your food — with a raisin, a chocolate
bar, or a cup of coffee. Imagine being mindful
of eating a candy kiss. Feel the paper…
listen to the sounds of the unwrapping.
Place the kiss in your mouth. Feel it on
your tongue and be aware of your tongue
naturally responding. How long does it take you
to eat the kiss when you are mindful of it?
Prepare food with care and attention. Be aware
of the efforts that have gone into bringing food
to your table. Be aware of how interdependent
we all are — from the farmer who sowed the
seeds to the checkout person who bagged our groceries.
Taste your food. Savor it..
As you go about your tasks be mindful of the experience.
When you wash the dishes, you can be mindful of
the task and the reason for the task by reminding
yourself of the meal the dishes held and who has
eaten from the dishes.
As you pick up socks for the laundry, be aware
with appreciation, of who wore them. Become
mindful of your work. Understand why you are
doing what you’re doing and how it is important.
As you breathe, be aware of each breath and its
Appreciate each experience for its own sake and
not as something to be done, or to get through
to do something else.
Go quietly and experience a walk. Observe
the plants and flowers. Smell the air…
see the sky…know the beauty of the
earth. Take this moment and be mindful.
Be aware of your own presence. Be aware of your
senses. Notice what you see as you look around.
Notice what you hear.
What can you touch from where you are?
Is it hard — smooth — soft? Inhale and
smell and taste the air around you.
You are in this moment. You are in this place
in space and time. This is the only time you have
and if you use the present moment to focus on
the past or worry about the future you miss
the now. Take care of the now and the future
will take care of itself.