How to Engage The Power of Mindfulness to Lead a “Delight Full” Life
About the power of mindfulness: “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ~ Pema Chödrön
It’s a hot summer day in the garden. Diana is miserable. All she can think about is getting done with work and getting in the house. On the other hand her sister, Daniela, although uncomfortable in the heat, is delighted to have spotted a swallowtail butterfly on the gloriously scented roses, as a delicious bit of breeze tickles across her arms. She feels filled up. Both women have the same physical reaction to the heat, yet one can’t wait to get the day over, while the other is savoring the delights around her. Would it surprise you to know that Diana, not Daniela, is the one that loves gardening?
It’s true. Daniela prefers to be running and hiking! But she has learned a skill her sister, Diana hasn’t. She’s discovered how to enjoy each moment of her life, even if it’s painful or uncomfortable. Diana tends to dwell on the negative and she lets her brain replay each failure as a personal fault. That’s what happened that day in the garden.
How Daniela Enjoys Each Moment in Life — Unleashing the Power of Mindfulness
Daniela wasn’t always such a centered and grounded person. She came to me a number of years ago, wanting to learn how to expand her coaching practice. In the process of our work together she discovered how the power of mindfulness can help her lead a life full of delight.
Mindfulness is a practice of becoming deeply aware of yourself (your breath, body sensations, feelings, thoughts) and your environment, without judgment. You become an observer by being thoroughly present. It’s your ability to set your focus on what’s most important and let go of what’s not. As Pema Chödrön said, “If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart…”
Whether in good times or bad, the power of mindfulness will help you cope with and enjoy something about each moment you live. Here are two of the mindful exercises I gave Daniela that really help her…
Quick Mindful Exercise
Pause and engage all of your senses…
- Mentally identify everything you hear, down to the buzz of the fly.
- Name what you see up close and then in the distance. Look up and down. Look again.
- Touch everything within your reach and name the sensations you feel…soft, coarse, smooth.
- Identify the aromas you smell…a flower, car exhaust, dust, rain.
- Notice the taste in your mouth…coffee from breakfast, the passing woman’s perfume.
Throughout your day’s activities do this quick mindfulness exercise to ground yourself. It’s helpful for experiencing each moment more intensely. Even more, it helps you deal with strong emotions, pain, or quieting unhelpful thoughts, because we can only let go once we experience and acknowledge what it’s trying to tell us.
30 Minute Inner Work Mindful Exercise
Without judgment and with full curiosity, open yourself to awareness of your whole self. Do a body scan from head to toe and ask yourself:
- How do I feel physically?
- What sensations am I experiencing?
- What thoughts or mental states are causing these sensations? (I’m so happy, I feel light!” I’m so worried, I feel like I’m carrying a ton of bricks.)
- How are my values, beliefs and life purpose being supported or challenged to create these states?
The most common way to enter a mindful state is to anchor yourself with your breath. As you read through my blog, you’ll see that everything I’ve written has at its heart the power of mindfulness. Here’s a sampling:
I believe that mindfulness isn’t just a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that you already possess. I encourage you to pay attention to the processes and systems that create the greatest impact in your life. Engaging the power of mindfulness is one of these! Whether small or great, they form a road map for Stepping Forward into creating a life of meaning and fulfillment. It works for me; I know it will work for you. You can now download an Introduction to my Stepping Forward Program that I’m releasing next year.