Mindfulness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, "is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."[i] So much of life can pass us by when we are disconnected from the present moment. Becoming mindfully present is simple, but not easy, especially in our Western world that puts so much emphasis on external accomplishment. And because our minds wander, we spend much of our time thinking about the past or future when we could be more present to life, right here and right now.
The present moment embodies the Taoist concept of wu-wei—being, not doing. When we're in a state of being, we are present, in touch with our feelings. We're not distracted, not emotionally numb, not driven by stress or feeling disconnected and alone, but present in the flow of life.
I invite you to join me in a mindful moment.
Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed, sit comfortably with your eyes looking down or gently closed, and focus on your breathing, the natural rhythm that connects you with all of life.
Take a slow, deep mindful breath. Feel the breath flow slowly through your body.
Then gradually release it, letting go of any tension with each outbreath.
Only here, only now.
When your mind starts wandering—and it will—bring your attention back to your breath
Feel the deep comforting presence, the gift of this moment, this life
You can practice this short breathing exercise with your eyes open when you're waiting in line, stuck in traffic, or whenever you need to return to the present moment. Then you can use it to return to a more calm and centered space whenever you're feeling stressed.
[i] Kabat-Zinn, J. (2012). Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—and Your Life. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. Quote on page 1.