The Power of Mindfulness combined with the Art of Paying Attention.
By: Sarah Shiplett, Yoga Instructor, ERYT 200, YACEP, MA
My kid took a pic of our living room, you know how you go back through your photos to delete any selfies or pics your baby had while she had your phone. This ordinary photo though that I was about to send to trash, it stopped me in my tracks. It was an ordinary evening. My husband and I had our backs to her, eating a meal at the counter, my son was watching his iPad on the couch, and my daughter captured it all. It was mundane as hell. But it took my breath away.
I didn’t see it then, but these moments are what it means to be alive. Think of all those moments you simply wish to be over or the ones you know you’re taking for granted. Bring the awareness back into your body and to your breath. At any given moment on or off the mat, you have the power to transform the mundane into the sacred.
Ordinary days can be just as meaningful as jumping into the ocean, out of an airplane, or trekking the Stairway to Heaven—if you allow them to be.
And since the time will pass regardless, let’s try to make each and every second of our life a celebration of living, even if we are “only” doing the dishes or eating a meal at the counter on a lazy Sunday.
Mindfulness is the art of paying attention. In the simplest form it is learning to be present. It’s making the mundane sacred. By bringing a heightened awareness to what we are doing, we are putting mindfulness in motion. Every-time you do this, for one minute or for a full hour, you are putting in the work. You are practicing. Imagine you want to be a pianist, but you never take the time to practice. You would probably go a lifetime with the wish to be a pianist but without practice you’ll never be able to play a sonata or concerto. There in lies the caveat. If you wish to be a more mindful human, you must be mindful.
For the most part, it’s easy and most times pleasant to notice and be mindful of our habits when life is peachy and our attention is laser focused on the good stuff. This is a wonderful and relaxed marker to understand what awareness truly is.
Examples of pleasant mindfulness:
It is looking at your child’s face and seeing every brow, every pore, the perfect pout of their lips, their freckles that only you know where to place.
It is being lost in your absolute favorite song.
It’s noticing the preciousness of life when you’re with the people you love most.
It is a heightened awareness biting into a juicy orange (mindful eating), going on a walk and noticing each step (mindful walking) or enjoying the benefits of a well-rounded yoga experience or meditation (meditation/meditate movement).
I repeat: We must practice.
So when we come across the moments that aren’t pleasant and we will all have them, we know how to harness our energy to avoid becoming overwhelmed and frozen. There will be storms. There will be moments we literally feel like we can’t breathe and feel completely out of control and lost. It is here we tap into the mindfulness we’ve been so eagerly practicing.
Sometimes we have to stay in a place even when we want to run. We don’t ask ourselves to not react or have intense emotions. We simply learn to relax and invoke the parasympathetic nervous system when those emotions do bubble up. We must practice how to rest the mind and body.
Life is slowing down right now. Schools are closing and there is an inherent effort to stay put. The to do lists, the meetings, the activities, the SPORTS have paused. Take time yourself to pause—not out of fear but to notice your surroundings, your loud kids at home, the home and space you’ve created, it is all useful.
This is the power of mindfulness.
About the Author:
Sarah Shiplett is a Yoga Teacher (MA, E-RYT 200, YACEP, CPYT) in the North Dallas area. Her hope is to be a guide to move her students through an inspiring and invigorating practice. She loves writing, sharing, collaborating and learning. Sarah is a mother of two and received training and certifications in prenatal yoga and postnatal yoga. She loves helping mommies-to-be with yoga postures, breathing techniques and labor delivery mindfulness, meditation and mantras. www.sarahshiplettyoga.com