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What Does It Mean to Be Mindful

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

mindful treeDr. Jennifer Howard is the host of A Conscious Life Radio show which has a very successful following and here she share some words on the practical importance and application of mindfulness in daily life.

Dr. Howard says, life in modern times has become so rushed and stressful for everyone that if we don’t find ways to cope with the pace, we will struggle in even greater ways physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Using mindfulness meditation techniques and learning how to be mindful moment to moment in our daily lives can transform us into a person who has a clear mind and an open heart. Even with these hectic demands, life can be more peaceful.  It takes practice to be simple.


Knowing our mind may be engulfed in the past and the future, it certainly helps to find ways to bring ourselves back to the moment. This reminds me of the Zen proverb, “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” This proverb demonstrates two things, (1) all daily life tasks become moments of awakening and enlightenment and (2) once we are enlightened or awakened we are still a human on a human journey. After we become “enlightened,” we still have to brush our teeth.

This viewpoint of mindfulness takes us to an understanding that even enlightenment deepens and deepens. We are fully human and can be fully awakening. This deepening opens us to what some would say is the essence of enlightenment. Mindfulness is a daily practice that allows us to embody more and more wholeness.


It’s important to remember that EVERYONE goes through stressful events in their lives – no one is exempt from this. Our task is to work with life as it is. Since we know that we have some participation in creating it, actively trying to stay mindful will allow us to be in every moment of our lives. This allows us to embrace it, learn from it, resolve it, and release it. As we process and become more aware of these difficulties, they release, we can relax and we are more in the moment.


Besides your sitting mindfulness meditation practice, every few hours during your day, bring yourself back to your breath; notice the sensations in your body and what you are feeling emotionally. As best you can, face your upsets head on, glean the goodies and the lessons - then let them go and breathe.


Take a good deep breath in…and now let it go…another good deep breath in…and let it go…take just a moment to notice the sensations in your body…start from the bottom of your feet and notice any sensations you have…move up through your legs and into your torso…notice all sensations…do you have pain anywhere? Are you tight anywhere? Just allow your focus to move through your body all the way up to the top of your head notice that as you just take note of your body it naturally starts to relax…Now notice what you might be feeling emotionally…notice how your thoughts might wander to a particular incident…just taking note of where you are…all the while breathing…now just notice your body for one more moment…and notice if there is a difference in how you feel now compared to when you started reading this.