The idea of mindfulness – of dropping our preconceived ideas and being open to what truly 'is', or just being present – is daunting. While we all know where to begin – right now – it often seems overwhelming because of the pace of our lives and the weight of our responsibilities. One way to get our arms around it is to practice punctuated mindfulness – to set apart a few specific times during the day to still our minds, listen to our bodies, and see what is before us openly and without prejudice. To get your practice to 'bloom': Sow Intently Begin by taking inventory of the moments of your daily life that you consider mundane – the times you are on 'autopilot'. Showering, folding clothing, and washing dishes are common examples of such times. Commit three such times to paper to start, and place them in a conspicuous location – like your bathroom mirror or dashboard - for review every morning and evening. By turning these times over to mindfulness, you erect a 'lattice' on which to train your practice for growth.
Nurture Compassionately By keeping the times you have committed to mindfulness practice in a conspicuous location, you can verify adherence to your intentions. In the event things aren't going as planned, don't pass judgement on yourself. Remember your current way of doing things took many years to commit to habit, and changing takes time. In the event one of the intended times isn't working, perhaps changing it will work. As you are able to consistently practice your intentions, add more. Don't be discouraged and don't give up!
Reap Fully Over time, the benefits of practicing just being present unfold in ways that are always new and full of joy. There is so much packed into the present that is inaccessible to us because we are distracted by our inner-narrative. When we are truly still and see mindfully, we see everything as if it was for the first time, and regain the wonder of living.
By starting with punctuated mindfulness, we can manage our personal transformation by establishing our practice and growing over time. It's a great form of horticulture that can be done even in the depths of our Chicago deep-freeze!
by Michael Brunner