What It Means To Be Mindful: A Lesson In Enlightenment
Have you ever walked into a room and realized that you completely forgot why you went there? This is a common side effect resulting from a lack of mindful awareness. We are often conditioned into thinking that doing something quickly is the most efficient way to complete a task. However, our actions are more impactful when we perform in a mindful manner.
I can admit, like many others I have been guilty of losing focus while trying to multitask too much at once. This realization has inspired me to strive to do better and ultimately become a more mindful person. The journey towards enlightenment begins with simply being mindful while returning home to the present moment.
“Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it is the ocean.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindful behavior does not always come naturally. To master mindfulness, it must consistently be practiced just like anything else. Think of it as strengthening your brain. This technique is like learning a new skill that can be applied to every aspect of your life. Do your best to minimize external variables and distractions. Remember, even if you cannot control your surroundings, you always have power over your internal thoughts and actions.
We discussed Forest Bathing in my previous post. It is just one example of practicing mindful meditation within daily life. You can incorporate this state of mind into anything. Consciously make an effort to have an awareness of what you are doing. Focus on one thing at a time.
For example, from the moment you wake up — become aware of your breathing. It is possible to be mindful whether you are walking, sitting, driving, eating, or even relaxing. Transform a passive activity into something mindful and meaningful. In a state of mindfulness, there is no destination — there is only the journey in the here and now. Fully immerse yourself in the present moment while showing gratitude for the experience.
Remember to slow down and reconnect to the present moment when your thoughts are racing. Relax your breathing as you center yourself in mindful awareness. Concentrate on letting go of what is behind and before you. Channel your energy into simply being. You can overcome any obstacle. It is amazing how much we are capable of when we choose to be mindful.
WWYD (WHAT WOULD YODA DO?)
If you are still struggling with the idea, try to relate it to someone or something familiar. Star Wars provides an excellent example that represents the epitome of mindful wisdom. Ask yourself, what would Yoda do? Master Yoda is not only my personal favorite character but perhaps the most mindful as well. I believe if Yoda was among us he would probably bop a good amount of people on the head with his walking stick. (If only we all had our own mindful mentor.)
Yoda always seems to maintain his composure regardless of the situation. How is that possible? When you are feeling afraid or overwhelmed, return to yourself in the present moment rather than letting emotions take control. Think of something that you are grateful for instead. Find your anchor to inner peace, and you will become grounded. Yoda expertly explains how fear is the absence of mindfulness:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda (Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace)
Fortunately, there is at least one individual alive who possesses such invaluable wisdom. He is a 93-year-old Buddhist monk and peace activist known as Thich Nhat Hanh. His followers affectionately refer to him as Thay. Regardless of your background or personal beliefs, Thay’s mindful philosophy and teachings about life send a resoundingly positive message to all of us.
WALKING IN MINDFULNESS
Walk With Me is one of the most profoundly inspirational documentaries I have ever seen. It is narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch and beautifully illustrates the legacy of Thay. I would highly recommend watching for anyone who wishes to learn more about being mindful on a daily basis. In Plum Village, a bell resounds throughout the Monastery every 15 minutes. This is done to remind those within the village to stop what they are doing while focusing on the present moment. Could you imagine if everyone practiced being mindful during their daily lives?
One of the most poignantly moving moments of the film was during a religious demonstration in New York. Various individuals gathered, trying to inform passers-by about their particular beliefs. Some even criticized and put others down in an attempt to proselytize and discredit them. All the while, a Buddhist monk sat there peacefully in silent meditation. He did not retort or lash out at those who tried to belittle him. His calm inner peace and nonviolent demeanor spoke volumes. What a beautiful, powerful message. Within us, we all have the capacity to be mindful, insightful, and aware of our actions.
Mindful wisdom means considering your choices and how you react in order to produce the desired outcome. Train yourself to be more mindful throughout your everyday life. Practice peaceful methods. Have foresight. Calm the noise within. You will notice how your life and the lives of those around you drastically improve when you challenge yourself to be mindful.