Be mindful. But how?
To be present in whatever you are doing. It's something we often read about, especially in relation to being mindful, or regarding certain psychological and spiritual practices. There are not too many people who do not find the idea of being fully absorbed in what you are doing attractive. One of the problems with having a mind is that it all too easily gets distracted, flipping into the past or future, and leaving us feeling anxious, worried, or just plain stressed.
Unfortunately you are biologically wired to be anxious because that's how people stay alert and conscious of possible threats from the environment. A certain degree of anxious tension was an absolute necessity for our ancestors because they lived in more rural and natural settings, where physical threats were a constant problem. Anxiety was necessary for survival. Yet nowadays this is not the case for most people in developed societies. So it is perfectly possible, and quite desirable to bring the mind into peaceful presence regularly.
Many years ago I was taught the importance of presence by mystic Leonard Jacobson. But I found it difficult to pull off. I discovered that the ego - which also arises from the biological organism and its attempts to ensure physical survival - just would not allow me to be. It would constantly drag me back into the world of the mind, and its chattering monkey madness. I began to ask how I could possibly overcome this problem.
Then one morning the answer came to me in a vision, as I lay in bed upon waking. The first few moments after you wake up are a great time to invite intuitive messages (you should try it too). That day a simple image came into my mind. It was a sheet of paper with some writing typed upon it. There were a whole heap of words, but there was one word repeated over and over again, in bold type. The image looked something like this.
now this why now he goes now do this all now besides that day now he sits there now here is now since that now eats the now Miss lam went now it depends upon why now keyboard now the tenth number now housing problem now at world now she does not want to now because that is so now it all depends upon now yes now no how much now the paper wars now my computer seems slow now upon arrival at now see me later now it could be that now however now do not do this now when it is time now I have not seen one now please see me now how is it so now the mouse now the hammer falls now take that up with now saying small now happiness is a now the doubt now you are not now does it matter now how about now she doesn't seem to know now is not the time for now perhaps he should know now am confused now necessarily now quiet down now when now hopeless now the president now when will it happen now it does not matter now stay here now
I immediately knew what it meant. A great way to instill the habit of mindfulness is to regularly bring the mind into presence throughout the day. Fortunately I already had some great tools for doing this. I suggest you use them too. The habit of presence is a learned one. You have to be disciplined and make the time for it. As you plant the seeds of presence throughout the day, the mind will gradually learn to use presence as its guide to what is normal, and return to that state automatically.
Here's a re-cap of two useful tools I have written about before.
The first and simplest way to become present is the Five Breaths method. Whatever you are doing, stop, and allow your attention to focus upon the breath as it moves in and out of your nose. Close your eyes if you like. After as few as five focused breaths your mind will become silent, and you are in presence. Like I said, simple.
The second method is The Oneness Technique. The spiritual teacher Leonard Jacobson taught this to me. Here presence is permitted by allowing yourself to become present “with that which is already present.” Virtually every non-human form on this planet is present. The simpler the object the better – best not to use a surrealist painting! Plants, books (close them first!), coffee cups, chairs, pencils and so on are great. Just stop and allow yourself to feel the presence of a tree, flower or pot plant. Animals and birds likewise exist in a state of presence. You can bring the mind to attention by observing them. As far as we humans go, children tend to be the most present. Without judgment, observe a child playing for a moment, and just allow the mind to become silent.