The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
Mindfulness is everywhere, or at least the word is. It is the catch cry of right now. But as wonderful as it sounds to BE in the moment, it is often a struggle in practice. The reality is that life is fast, and it’s the future and the past which swallow our present moments most of the time. The journey of now, is completely overlooked, with the goal (often hollow and meaningless), up on a pedestal consuming all of our energy.
Mindfulness is such a ridiculously simple concept, and one which makes perfect sense when you read about it, and when you’re doing it. The problem is that culturally we are motivated so differently. Life today is about continual achievement and getting stuff done, not about focusing on the minute details of life as you experience them. The concept of being closely connected to all of those around us is beautiful too, but other pressures in life are all consuming. Being distracted seems to be a very natural state for humans. At least it is for modern humans.
I’ve carried out extensive ‘experiments’ on my children (on myself really), where I focus on them completely for really long periods of time. I give them my full uninterrupted attention, continuous eye contact, loads of happy words, praise, and smiles. My attention doesn’t wander or waver. The entire time I’m doing it, I monitor their behaviour and responses closely. When I compare this to how they are when I am distracted, dismissive, and absorbed in other life stuff, the contrast is mind blowing, but not really surprising. It’s actually almost impossible for them to be unhappy or to misbehave when they feel so connected to me, in that moment. It’s so obvious, but the thing which is even more surprising is how easy it is to sustain, because of the mutual happiness it brings. That happiness is sustained in me when I bring mindfulness to any activity I do, even the most mundane.
Obviously our lives are complex, and simply being mindful and living life in the moment isn’t always possible. But why, if our happiness is greater, our human connections deeper, do we allow our minds to wander, our ‘to do’ lists to overwhelm us, and the call of life to ring louder than who we are with, and what we are doing right now, in this moment.