A primer on mindfulness

In preparation to present the topic of mindfulness to a group of young adults this week, I thought it might be useful to revisit some of the basics with you. After all, a little refresher can be a reminder of why we became interested in something in the first place.

Mindfulness is a term we hear a lot nowadays. It seems like it's everywhere. It's been monetized, commoditized, and we've become mesmerized -- so much so that we may feel pressured into thinking it's something else to master, to fail at, to go along with, to pretend to understand. Am I doing it right? Do I say anything? Am I breathing in and out? I think I'm hyperventilating. Wait, why am I trying to be mindful again? Does this matter? Am I having feelings about this? Isn't this supposed to feel good? What did she just say to me? Why does it feel like I'm doing it wrong?

Whoa!! Whoa. Let's slow down.

So, mindfulness... what is it really? Here's an easy definition to remember: Mindfulness is present-moment awareness. How about this one? Mindfulness is an open and friendly willingness to understand what is going on in and around you. Or this one? Be here now. Or this? An active, open attention on the present. Or: Being mindful is simply noticing what's happening.

Mindfulness is simple. But, like so many concepts that are simple, it can get complicated pretty fast. And that's probably because we humans can feel and think so many things at once. Not to mention the world's input is coming at us at a rate that is far beyond human capacity to absorb. Come to think of it, that might actually be why the topic has gained so much attention in the past 20 years. We don't live bucolic lives anymore. We need to be reminded to smell the roses -- or the stench -- of our present moments. Either way, or any way in between, we need to relearn how to slow down and take notice and then deal.

So, my presentation for the kids will be an hour-plus; more time than I have here. For you, for now, for this week, remember to notice. Notice your reactions, your feelings, your words, your body in time and space. Notice your breath. Notice your thoughts. Take notice. That's all. And remember, it's a practice. So practice. You may be surprised to see where you take yourself after a while.