According to Wikipedia (so let’s not question it),
Mindfulness as a psychological concept is the focusing of attention and awareness, based on the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation and refers to a psychological quality that involves bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.
I am terrible at mindfulness.
I’m never where I am.
Any chance I get I’m sailing off into a daydream about unicorns and dragons OR I’m smiling secretly to myself about something delicious that happened OR (more frequently) I’m agonising over some hideous faux pas I made OR I’m constructing elaborate scenarios set in the future (in which I will NOT make a pratt of myself). I rarely notice the roses, much less stop and smell them; this is partly because I lack the facility for smell but mostly because I’m firmly entranced in my merry dream world. But I’ve become increasingly aware that this is no way to live my life. The future doesn’t exist. I can’t change or relive the past. The present is all that matters. But I’m missing it.
I have found one thing that works. One thing that jerks me back into my surroundings and forces me to notice the beauty that is casually unfolding around me whether or not I’m aware of or appreciating it. When the perfect song steals into my ears at exactly the right time and all my senses are caught at once. Then I am mindful.
Like when I’m waiting for the lift outside the MRT and my ipod sneakily shuffles onto Love Rain by Jill Scott and the sweet sustained strings and the heartbeat bass and the warm breeze on my shoulders all scheme together to drag my attention to the tree, heavy with deep velvet white frangipani against the soul-achingly vivid blue sliver of sky just visible between the grey highrises.
Or when I’m smiling because I’m listening to Get up Get down Get funky Get loose by Teddy Pendergrass and as I walk through the barrier for the train and happen to catch the eye of the cute boy coming the other way, he beams back, guilelessly and sunnily and we both walk in our opposite directions, stealing glances back and giggling goofily and giddily at ourselves and each other. (Incidentally, I saw the same boy some days later but the song wasn’t right and my stupid face didn’t know what to do!)
Or when I’m walking home in the searing heat, my clothes sticking to me and the air pressing in and down but as I bite into the sweet bitterness of a chunk of sunset pink pomelo, all at once Drive by incubus chugs on and at that moment a gorgeous powerful breeze sweeps the street and eases me and I could skip!
Or when I’m lying on cushions, staring at the sky through the fat leaves of a tree, eating papaya salad, drinking cheap Thai whisky on the beach and as the light fades and the sky is all inky and pinky and the lanterns in the trees make everything warm and soft, and the basslines of the Tracy Chapman and Sade songs they are playing are all at exactly the same temperature as the air and i drift away to exactly where i am.
And it’s like the whole universe conspires together just for a moment to give me a little gift…. just for paying attention.
And now I am always seeking these moments, i have come to hunt them.
Plug your ears and tune into to present. It’s a present!