Wikipedia, in their dry but admittedly learned way, defines mindfulness as the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.
And there you have it, in those last three Wikipedia generated words. “In the present moment”. That, to me, is mindfulness explained.
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center for patients suffering from pain. He came up with an incredibly simple but effective exercise, which anyone can try to experience mindfulness. If you have five minutes right now – all you need is a raisin and a quiet space to sit.
The idea is that you place a raisin in your hand. The thing most of us would do next is to pop into our mouths and move onto the next thing. But no, not this time. Your job is to observe it. Juts look and see the texture, the bumps, the colour, and the glossiness. Bring it to your nose and smell it. How does it feel in your hand? Now place it into your mouth and swirl it around. Can you feel the texture with your tongue? Chew just once, and observe the very first taste. Take your time and eventually chew some more before swallowing. Keep sitting and think about how your body feels with the raisin now ingested.
Well done. You have now experienced mindfulness. And now imagine what your life would be like if you employed this behaviour more often? At work when listening to a colleague, experience observing their face, their lips, and their body movements. At home, sit on the couch without turning the television or radio on and just observe for five minutes. Listen to the sound of the world around you, the feel of the couch, the smells in the air and the cadence of your own breath.
So wherever you are or whatever your situation in life, I am wondering if you can commit to an act of mindfulness. Each day for a week. And then observe how you feel.
I am betting you will never look at a raisin the same way again . . .