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Dear Lifelines: Curious To Be Mindful

Dear Lifelines:

How does someone become more ‘mindful’. I keep hearing this word being thrown around and I don’t really understand what it means.

Curious to be mind-full.

Dear Curious,

Thanks for your question. There seems to be a lot of interest and information right now in the media about being mindful, including various types of mindful living practice and forms of meditation.

Essentially, being mindful is being conscious of the present moment that you are experiencing. The goal is to be totally present in mind and body, meaning that you aren’t busy thinking about the next item on your ‘to do’ list or what you should have said during a conversation at last night’s dinner party. You are aware of where you are, who you are with and you are engaged in the moment as close to 100% as is possible.

You notice instantly when someone is present for you in the moment and practicing being mindful. They are focused on you, listening and interacting to what you say with a high degree of awareness. They might ask for clarification about what you are saying so that they can understand exactly what you mean during the conversation. They won’t be checking their phone, updating their Facebook status or politely cutting you off to send out random texts. Being in the presence of someone who makes you their sole focus is truly a special feeling. Sadly, this experience is really a rare situation in our busy, highly technological society. Our children likely suffer the most as our attention chronically becomes pulled from one direction to another. Kids quickly learn to behave like us as is evidenced by our struggles to draw their attention away from their own media devices and overly-involved lives.

Perhaps it would benefit all of us to set aside specific times to turn off our media and communication devices and take a break from the demands that we find ourselves encumbered with. During these times we can make specific efforts toward taking time to breathe, enjoy the moment, and engage with those around us in a meaningful way. One way to start this practice is to just focus on one area of your life, perhaps one type of situation only – like mealtimes or after work times - and make a concerted effort to create a change towards being more mindful. For instance, you might decide to turn off the television at mealtimes or wait to read the newspaper later in the day instead of at the breakfast table. Maybe you want to set some boundaries for electronic devices so that you can have some clear, responsive and meaningful conversations with your children before they head off for their school day. It might seem like a challenge initially – and it will be effortful - but the benefits of your positive energy and calm presence for those around you will likely beat out the Nintendo system each time, if you are truly focusing your efforts in a genuine way to engage and be truly present for them.



“Life is not lost by dying! Life is lost Minute by minute, day by dragging day, In all the thousand, small, uncaring ways…” Stephen Vincent Benet


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