A year ago I wrote an article about the hype surrounding the concept of mindfulness. All of the attention it receives can have the paradoxical effect of making us tired of hearing about it or stressed out that we’re not doing it right. For today, just know that mindfulness need not be concerned with hype or rights & wrongs. Mindfulness doesn’t require a special place and you don’t have to gear up with special clothing. Mindfulness is an aware and present state of being, to which we don’t have to ascribe judgement or value.
For today, try this simple idea to be more mindful of your sense of place. I call this “Sounds of Home” but it can be practiced anywhere. Start by finding a comfortable position where you can spend 15 to 2o minutes alone. You might even set a timer on low volume.
Take several deep but comfortable breaths and settle into your space. Then, simply notice the sounds of your environment. If other thoughts arise—like your to-do list for the day—just notice them as they arise and let them pass. Keep bringing your attention back to the present moment of listening and noticing the space you’re in. You’ll likely notice familiar and unfamiliar sounds, but you don’t have to label them or attend to them. You’ve given yourself permission to sit for this time without answering the phone if it rings, without getting angry at the dog if it barks. You’re realizing that as much as you don’t have control of many aspects of your environment, you do have control over how you react to them. You notice how quickly fleeting sounds really are, yet how strongly our minds have been conditioned to label, judge, and react to them. A car horn is just a car horn until we allow our reactions to ascribe to it the story of how we can never seem to find peace and quiet. Yet even when we can’t find quiet, we can practice being at peace by staying fully present in the moment.
I share more tips for everyday mindfulness in my small ebook, Cultivating Your Everyday Mindfulness.