This is the last post of our mindfulness series (although we will most definitely come back to it on a regular basis).
By reading and writing about mindfulness, I have come to realize that mindfulness can apply to pretty much anything. Even Jean-Claude Van Damme claims he is AWARE. (Aware of what, that's another question, as he tends to go in a multiplicity of directions at the same time.)
Mindfulness is a powerful tool to self-development and well-being. It could even save us from a miserable life. One does not need to be deeply spiritual to experience the power of mindfulness, as you will gather from the following example:
Mindfulness leads to well-being
Lately, I had been feeling... well, maybe not miserable, but low on energy (both physical and mental). I didn't know why, since my life is pretty good these days. So I put on my "mindfulness glasses", paid attention to how I felt deep down inside, and realized that I hadn't been very serious about Maslow's pyramid of needs: I was fulfilling all my needs... except for the ones at the bottom of the pyramid, the physiological ones, and the most important of all! More precisely, I had been neglecting my rest (not enough sleep) and my food (too much sugar). As soon as I realigned my priorities... I started to feel better.
Then, interestingly, I realized I also had emotional needs to attend to, needs I had been oblivious to. I tackled those. I can say I feel MUCH better now.
Have you been ignoring some of your needs from a lack of mindfulness?
Mindfulness as a self-defense mechanism against... the mass media
I have to say I love how mindfulness has an application in everyday life. It can, for example, help one transcend the mass media and advertisement we are constantly bombarded with (quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh again!):
We know that perfume is an item of consumption and a bait. In the bait there is a hook, and we are the innocent fish. The products are advertised so skillfully and the bait is so appealing that, with one bite, we're caught. What do we have as self-defense? Nothing except our mindfulness.
How do you use mindfulness in the way you respond to advertisement and the mass media in general?
Mindfulness as the first step to respecting the environment
Human beings look down on other living beings. We think animals are created for us to eat, and that we can do whatever we want with animals, vegetables and minerals. We are not very healthy in that respect. But we cannot protect human beings unless we protect non-human beings.
When you stand in front of a tree and practice mindful breathing, you realize that you and the tree inter-are. You know that if the tree is not there, you cannot be there. This kind of wisdom leads to the end of all wars and discrimination. It is not something to just talk about. It is something that we can live in every moment of our lives.
So, mindfulness leads to a deeper and wider understanding of how the world functions, including empathy for all living things. When I see children try and destroy spider webs on purpose, I explain to them how much work was involved in the creation of that web, and how spiders can be useful to nature. This applies to pretty much any live creature, even if as humans we are not always aware of it.
Are you mindful of the life around you? How does that affect your actions on an everyday basis?
Mindfulness is to be shared
Now that you have learned about mindfulness, and have started practicing it... you have a brand new role: share the good news! Tell other people about it! Help them raise their levels of consciousness. See how this man shares his own kind of mindfulness (on the topics of fitness, aging, and the importance of play) with the world!
Be sure to look for the previous posts on Mindfulness (click on any):