Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cultivating Mindfulness

In Western society, we are so busy running around trying to do or achieve something that we forget to live in the present moment.  Most of us either live in the past or in the future. The past has already happened and the future is yet to happen.  Therefore, this present moment is all that really exists.  Cultivating mindfulness is a way to keep the mind focused in the present.  By slowing down and being aware of everything that we do it can help us to become more mindful of our actions.  

Mindfulness also has many health benefits.  It assists with regulating mood swings and for treating depression.  When we are more self aware, we can accept things more easily and without judgement.  Here are a few techniques to get started:
  • Pay full attention to the food that you eat.  Examine what it is, how it tastes and smells.  Give your meal your full attention without distractions such as the radio or TV.
  • When walking, concentrate on your feet and how they feel on the ground.  Focus on the breath, look at your surroundings and feel the wind on your face.  Stay in the present moment.
  • Think carefully about what you do or say before reacting. 
  • Energy flows where attention goes.  When painful memories or emotions occur, don’t allow yourself to become attached to them.  It takes some practice, but eventually they will lessen with time.
The following story from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is a great reminder of the need for mindfulness. 
The Father of ‘As Famous as the Moon’

A very poor man, after a great deal of hard work, had managed to accumulate a whole sack of grain.  He was proud of himself, and when he got home he strung the bag up with a rope from one of the rafters of his house to keep it safe from rats and thieves.  He left it hanging there, and settled down underneath it for the night as an added precaution. 
Lying there, his mind began to wander: “If I can sell this grain off in small quantities that will make the biggest profit.  With that I can buy some more grain, and do the same again, and before too long I’ll become rich, and I’ll be someone to reckon with in the community.  Plenty of girls will be after me.  I’ll marry a beautiful woman, and before too long we’ll have a child…it will have to be a son…what on earth are we going to call him?”  Looking around the room, his gaze fell upon the little window, through which he could see the moon rising.  “What a sign!” he thought.  “How auspicious!  That’s a really good name.  I’ll call him “As Famous as the Moon’…”  Now while he had been carried away in his speculation, a rat had found its way up the sack of grain and chewed through the rope.  At the very moment the words “As Famous as the Moon” issued from his lips, the bag of grain dropped from the ceiling and killed him instantly.

This story never fails to bring my mind back to the present moment.


  1. Wow, really good article. i love the story!

  2. Dearest Shelley, thank you so much for writing such insightful artical. It reminds me of Eckhart Tolle'S teaching for living in the current time.much love,Rali