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Mindfulness is the current buzzword

Published May 18. 2013 09:04AM

Each time frame seems to give us new buzzwords. It's a word or words that suddenly come into vogue with a new meaning.

Today's buzzword seems to be "mindful."

It's not a new word or even a new practice. But it has taken on a life of its own during the past two years.

It simply means focusing our attention and awareness to a new level of consciousness.

The mindfulness movement has been around for a long time, probably starting with the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation. Clinical psychologists also have used it for decades.

Now mindfulness has entered the mainstream and we hear about it everywhere.

We're told "mindful eating" is one way to control weight.

In addition to not shoving food mindlessly in our mouths, we are told to eat s-lo-w-l-y, lingering over each bite, savoring the flavor and appreciating the food.

This week on Christian radio I heard about faith-based mindfulness. It calls for being acutely aware all day, every day, of God and his creation.

For some, "religion" is going to church on Sunday, sitting in a pew, and listening to the sermon. After church, that's it until the following week.

Mindful faith calls for looking at your world and everyone in it as part of God's creation. It calls for being aware of and appreciating all of life on an everyday basis.

The big "mindful movement" started first with a call for mindful living. I didn't need to read a book or hear about that movement to live the concept. I've been doing it for years, decades actually

Of course I never called it mindful living. I simply called it being aware of the moment and living each moment to the fullest.

I describe it as inhaling life, tasting every delicious morsel by taking time to see, feel and appreciate all the small moments that make up life.

In other words, it means staying completely in the moment and appreciating that moment for what it is.

It sounds simple, but it's not. Our minds drift. While we are doing something, we tend to always be thinking about our next activity instead of concentrating only on the present moment.

One psychologist gave an excellent example of a parent giving a baby a bath. Instead of enjoying the sheer magical pleasure of the moment, the parent is thinking about what's next on the "to do" list.

I've been trying for years to do more living in the moment. But sometimes, hours and even days slip by me in a busy whirl, especially when I have multiple appointments in one day.

When you think about it, don't most of us spend our days like that? We go from one chore or activity to another, without savoring any of it. It's just "stuff we gotta do."

We get in our cars and go from destination to destination, heedless to any of the beauty along the way. We don't see the puffy clouds of another beautiful day of life. We don't see the countryside as it rushes by our car window. All we're thinking about is getting there.

I know I was like that during my working career. When I retired and realized the time I had left was shorter than what I had already lived, I knew I wanted to do everything in my power to savor each remaining day.

Mindful living, as it is called, is just another term for savoring life and all of its sweet, tender moments. Speaking of sweet, tender moments, how many of them do you fail to see each day?

If there is ever a compelling case for mindfulness, it's in relationships, the cornerstones of our life.

Whether we're talking about relationships with our spouse, parents, children, siblings or office mates, our happiness depends on how we build those relationships.

My theory is we don't lay enough strong building blocks in relationships, especially when it comes to marriage. Most of us tend to gloss over, miss, or take for granted what a spouse does for us. Sometimes we don't even see it.

There are so many daily acts of love and caring that we don't see. How can we be grateful for something if we are not aware of the gift we are being given?

One friend complained to me that her husband is a great guy but he never remembers to buy her a Valentine's present.

But he does keep her car running, works on every home improvement she wants, and gives her back rubs at the end of a day.

I told her those caring acts are all Valentines.

David and I both try especially hard to be mindful of each and every caring act we do for each other.

I said "thank you for caring" after he spent a boring day driving me to the doctor's, sitting in the office and waiting for an inordinate amount of time, then staying cheerful and solicitous on the way home.

I wanted him to know I didn't take him for granted.

In much the same way, he remembers to say thank you when I make his favorite recipes or do something special to please him.

Mindfulness is getting so much attention that it rates its own new magazine as well as a host of Internet sites.

But the best place for mindfulness is right in our own lives.

It can certainly heighten an appreciation for life.

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