It's a wicked crazy winter wonderland here in Boston. Right now I'm sitting at my desk and outside there is a fresh 10 inches of snow from yesterday, but it's ice that's coming down now. The ice is supposed to turn into rain and then freeze tonight. I love that just by simply leaving my house I am immediately on an adventure! I've already fallen on the ice twice this year. The first time I fell I saw the ice, I told myself to be careful and then immediately slipped and fell. The second time I just wasn't paying attention. I had my arms full of yoga mats, headphones in my ears and I was thinking up a storm when all of a sudden I was on my ass.
Sitting there on the ice with the mats all around me and wondering if I had broken anything I thought to myself, "Rog, get out of your head. Pay attention!" I went home and sat down (on my left cheek, the one not bruised) and I pondered what the practice of mindfulness is. Mindfulness has always seemed so distant and difficult and, in some ways, unreachable especially inside my scattered brain. It occurred to me that it's actually quite simple. Mindfulness is the practice of just simply noticing what's present in the moment without judgement. In every moment there is a lot going on.
If I were to practice right now it would look something like this:
I have a cashew stuck in one of my teeth and my tongue is working hard to get it out. I can hear the sound of typing. There's the actual sound of the keys and then there is the sound of my fingers hitting the keys. I can also hear the ice as it hits the window and a siren off in the distance. My lower back is aching a little from sitting all morning. There is a tightened place in the center my chest that is causing my breath to be slightly constricted. I have a lot of energy stirring up my mind. I feel joyful, but when I close my eyes I'm also aware of an unreachable sadness that's tucked away inside the tightness of my chest... and so on and so forth....
That's the practice-- becoming aware of what's present without the judgement or opinion of the mind. Give it a try. Right now take a moment to notice what you notice.
Scan your senses.
What do you see, hear, taste and smell?
What are the physcial sensations in your body?
There will be some obvious things. See if you can tune in to some of the more subtle things. Can you hear the sound of your breathing? If it's appropriate (meaning that your not driving or running heavy machinery) close your eyes and notice again.
Practice this often. It can be as simple as taking a conscious breath or taking 30 seconds to notice what's around you.... and when the sidewalks are covered in ice for heaven's sake pay attention!