These two words can be recalled by most; we’ve been hearing them from the time we could understand language. Reflecting back to early childhood and throughout schooldays, this spoken phrase stands out, and is also a favorite of the military, the command to ATTEN-TION! ringing many times a day.
I had no idea I was being called to spiritual practice in my early childhood, and I’m convinced my parents, teachers, and commanding officer barking out orders had no idea they were uttering words that would be so significant in meditation practice, words that, if practiced, give us the ability to walk peacefully amid the adversities of life with their uninvited interruptions by just paying attention.
The practice of mindfulness is simply practicing the art of paying attention to what is. “Mindfulness” seems to be a gentler way of saying “pay attention;” being present for our every moment is a practice we can all do. Prior experience not needed, on-the-job-training, start now.
I heard on CNN today that we have become a nation on medication. Let’s become spiritual warriors and help ourselves become a nation on meditation. Help people to practice what they have been called for since early childhood: paying attention, and being mindful.
Upon arising each day, even without a regular meditation practice, take a few breaths and have the intention to pay attention. Try a ten-minute practice–with twenty-four hours in each day, taking this short time to sit and be mindful of your breath can be a game-changer. The simplicity of breathing in and being with that breath, then breathing out and know you are doing so is the way into the present moment. Let the breath become a mantra; when your attention is on the breath, you are being present. Be mindful, the next breath could contain the greatest joy you have ever experienced, so put nothing ahead of your practice.
The practice of mindfulness brings great significance to the most mundane actions. The simple walk from one room to another, done with complete attention can be like surfing a perfect wave. Practicing presence with all we do is opening the door to joy; the present moment contains everything we are looking for. Being truly present for others is like an offering of holiness, giving importance to every person we encounter.
The practice of mindfulness has my complete attention–for all those who practice, it is job security for a lifetime. We start again each moment, returning to the breath, to the movement we are involved in now. The simplicity of paying attention to our breath has found its way into all walks of life. Practicing mindfulness turns our daily routines into a sacred path; we find magic while embracing each moment and each other.
The early morning darkness greets me with a yawn, and, focused only on the sacredness of the moment, I arise for practice.
The next time someone says “please pay attention,” let it be your reminder to become mindful of the present moment, beautiful moment. I would love to sit with you.