I hadn’t really thought about mindfulness until some years ago when I saw a magnet on a friend’s fridge. It said, ‘Be present in every moment’. I had to think about it for a moment to sort of process it. It wasn’t talking about a physical presence of course, but a mental one. I asked my friend to explain.
Sam’s response stopped me in my tracks. She said she wanted to give 100% to every moment – to really experience it and honour it by being truly, mentally present. She explained that this was both for her benefit and for the person sharing it with her. Her goal was to give herself completely.
To me in my whirlwind life, this seemed rather idealistic and almost laughable. A real ‘yeah right’ instance. How on earth can you ‘give yourself completely’ to each and every moment?
Sam was big on mindful stuff. She was someone who was very calm, very giving of herself, hugely kind and always looking wonderful. A dear friend who to be honest, I often envied with her aura of peace and ease with herself and the world around her. Her sense of style was extraordinary, her home as beautiful as her – a sanctuary for her soul. We’d catch up for a drink and she’d observe me hurtling through the door late, wiping ketchup or some such thing from my top (two small boys) while smoothing my hair and swearing like a trooper over something or other. Eventually Sam’s calm would rub off on me, but not before I’d finished sounding off about goodness knows what. Still, I did make her laugh.
I often thought about that fridge magnet. It was on my ‘to do’ list but then so was everything else. From worrying about my consultancy business and where the next dollar was coming from, to more of my entrepreneurial ideas and how to make them real (and pay), it felt as if focusing on ‘being present in every moment’ was unachievable.
So at that time, the most my harried mind could cope with was the idea of mindfulness, rather than the actual application, but now I’m working on making it happen. OK maybe not every moment, but the important ones such as when my child is telling me about their day or a friend is talking to me. Instead of thinking about my endless ‘to do’ list, I am learning to stop, switch off the endless noise and switch on to what my friend is telling me. Really switch on (and not be waiting to jump in with my own experience – but that’s another topic).
There are many reasons to do this. One is respect for the person or people you are with. You are signalling to them that what they are saying is important and meaningful and that you are interested. This makes them feel good, feel both valued and validated. Letting yourself pay full attention shows you are genuinely interested and in return, leads to your own sense of fulfilment. If someone has chosen to share something, then surely we should try to be fully present.
Another great reason is that you’ll remember that moment. This is a major bonus, especially with teenagers in the house. ‘Mum! We already spoke about that! You said we could!’ can get quite tricky not to mention frustrating for all concerned. It’s the price you pay for not giving yourself to that conversation in the first place.
Think of it as more bang for your buck – more value out of those precious minutes, more value out of your day. And when you go to bed, you’ll hopefully experience a deeper sense of the day’s activities – possibly even remember them.
Practising mindfulness; being aware of the moment and learning to give yourself to it, is a skill that is worth honing. As we often acknowledge, you never know what’s round the corner, so living and breathing those important moments needs to move to the top of our ‘to do’ lists, for everyone’s sake.