Monday, December 5, 2011

On mindfulness::

I am currently reading this book:

(and drinking this coffee)

'Wherever You Go, There You Are' is a book about 'mindfulness' which, so far as I can say, is the practice of being in the the moment that one is currently living, rather than thinking of the past, future, what happens next, or whatever.  

Basically I want to 'suck the juice' out of every moment, as much as is possible, and I am thinking that paying quiet attention to the things I am doing at any one moment might enhance my ability to do that. 
I am finding the practice of mindfulness a bit elusive, though it might seem the most obvious and easy thing to do. Years of stewing on the past or worrying about what might happen in the future have set their stamp on my mindset. It is curious that, that I don't go about daily life thinking happily about the great things that are going to happen in the future, but about the things that might go wrong. Anyway, back to mindfulness.

I have put my mind to it these past couple of days. The book (above) suggests focussing on one's breathing. So how to focus on something that I can't see, hear, feel, smell or touch, going into and out of a place that I can't imagine? All I could do was listen (breathe noisily) and feel my chest expand, relax, expand etc. It is a start.

Before my run today I started as usual with stretching and some 'salutes to the sun', but unthinkingly changed the order by doing the salutes first. The way I learned this set of yoga exercises was from a book and one must breathe in/out with each different movement, holding the breath through two of them, so you start with an inhale and end with an exhale. I always do the conscious breathing as well as the different movements, it is just habit, I haven't thought about it.

As I said I usually start with the stretching exercises and count to 20 through each one because I read somewhere that each stretch should be held for 20 seconds. I just count to 20, not 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi etc. 

Today, after the 2 salutes to the sun, I then went into my stretches but, without thinking, breathed through them instead of counting, at least I did until I was about half way through and realised that I wasn't counting to 20. Aha! thinks I, maybe I have been doing my salutes mindfully! I then reverted to counting to 20, but think I might continue to do the salutes first, breathing consciously through the stretches felt good. Maybe that is what focussing on breathing is, breathing consciously.  

I set off for my run, breathing etc.. Found it a bit hard as I kept wondering what the air was doing and how I would feel if it suddenly disappeared (like the ocean in a sky tsunami), found this distracting so concentrated on my digestion instead. At least this got me to feeling my body, bounded by my skin, running through space. 

I started thinking about my sister, her funeral, the eulogy, the shit that hit fan afterwards.....

Back to the pursuit of mindfulness. I felt my breathing again, I let the immediate surroundings in. It felt like this.

willow tree, willow tree, willow tree..
willy wagtail..eucalypt..eucalypt...bark peeling..
'after the last gapped wire on a post, homecoming to me to enter the gum forest, this old grey battlefield, spent armour, cracked collars, elbows, scattered on the ground' (Les Murray)...
Indian mynah wattlebird..attacking eastern rosella!!!
casuarina tree..eucalypt.. child's wheels...
casuarina twigs and cones on the ground..sulphur crested cockatoo..
sulphur crested cockatoo, sulphur crested cockatoo..
moorhen..another moorhen.. two baby moorhens!!! and black bark..
eucalypt..long strips of dry bark hanging like shreds of burned skin..
wattle tree..
Indian mynah
sign..share this out for cyclists..

You get the picture. I must have done a decent job of being in the moment because I didn't think about the future or the past and kept breathing. I feel alright too.


  1. Beautiful post, Julie! Indeed, breathe in, breathe out & feel the moment. Something I forget to do when I need it most... Thanks for the reminder! :)

  2. Thank you Yvonne! I think this is the sort of thing that we forget to do just when we need it most - one of the reasons I am practising while I don't really 'need' it :-)

  3. Good work :) Why am I always too busy (in my head & elsewhere) to make space for these things? That is SUCH a rhetorical question ;)