Mindfulness is about coming alive in the moment. To get a feel for what mindfulness is like, think about times when you already feel really alive, when you’ve experienced a really vivid and vibrant quality to life.
For example, one of the things I like to do is to take photographs of beautiful landscapes. I was in the Pyrenees one autumn morning – I’d camped out near a spot I thought might make for good pictures, and walked there for sunrise. I just had an amazing morning – I kept taking picture after picture, hour after hour (and this was back in the days of film!). I kept thinking I should go and get some breakfast – but I just couldn’t tear myself away. In the end I didn’t leave until about 2pm – exhausted, but very, very happy. Here’s one of the pictures:
So that’s a time when I was feeling really alive.
How about you? When have you felt really engaged and alive? What was that like for you?
Were you caught up in regrets about the past or worries about the future? Or were you engaged with your experience at the time?
Did you feel lonely and isolated? Or did you feel connected with life?
Did you feel aimless, did life feel meaningless? Or did you have a sense of meaning, value or purpose?
The reason I ask, is that mindfulness has these characteristics: when you’re mindful, you’re engaged with your experience as it’s happening. You feel connected with life. And you know what matters – you have a sense of meaning, value or purpose.
The great thing is, you don’t have to wait for peak experiences. I don’t have to go back to that mountain river in the Pyrenees (much as I’d love to!). With mindfulness, we get to feel happier, more confident, more engaged and more alive, right in the midst of our everyday lives.