Stop. Breathe. Feel the space your body takes up in the world. Your feet on the earth. Look around you with the eyes of a child, noticing the tiny details that you usually rush by. Inhale deeply the scents of your surroundings. Close your eyes and feel all that touches your skin — your clothing, the breeze, the air itself. Listen for the sounds that are nearest, and then extend the reach of your hearing to the faintest noises you can discern.
This is how we root into our bodies. This is how we come into the present moment. This is how we bring joy and appreciation back into our lives when they’ve withered away, robbed by stress, obligation, and chaos.
Mindfulness has become quite the catchphrase, but the basics behind the idea remain the same. It’s not just about learning to become grounded and present within your body, though that is a crucial first step. It is about staying in the moment with everything around you, and then the next, recognizing that every second is a new opportunity to find presence. It’s a skill, for sure, but once you get there life becomes more vibrant. Knowing that everything is constantly changing and shifting, you learn to truly appreciate all of it.
We often view impermanence as a tragedy, but without it, life could not exist. The movement, evolution, and growth of all things is what creates our world. The true tragedy lies in the way we hurry through our lives, missing the great majority of that beautiful cycle happening all around us. When someone passes away, for example, most of us feel great regret. We wish we’d spent more time with them or listened more deeply. Practicing the art of mindfulness removes that regret. When we learn to use our time wisely and stay exactly where we are, letting go of distractions and mind chatter, we miss nothing. We are our best selves with each breath we take. We are always right there with the people we love. That is the precious payoff of developing this practice for ourselves.
To be honest, it feels a bit like being on drugs. The colors are more vibrant, the sounds more distinctive. Everything has a different intensity to it, borne of the knowledge that it cannot and will not last. Your capacity for appreciation expands, as does your capacity to let go. Knowing that everything is in constant flux, you can better release the negative emotions and situations that come into your life. Mindfulness helps you put it all into perspective.
Nothing is constant except change. You may have heard this before, but were you truly listening? The more you practice connecting to your body and the present moment, the more easily you avoid taking on energy that is not your own. When you can create boundaries and keep negative, disruptive influences from invading your internal world, you then create peace and happiness. You are no longer at the mercy of your life. Instead, you consciously decide how you want to inhabit your time here on Earth.
This is all wonderful in theory, but you have to learn how to put it into practice. Start exploring different techniques for developing mindfulness and embodiment. There is something out there for everyone. You just have to find what works for you. Anyone and everyone can improve qualities of mindfulness and presence. All it takes is the desire to bring in more joy, calm, and positivity. You are the creator of your life—don’t you think it’s time to decide in favor of happiness?