We live in a culture obsessed with time. We’re either trying to make time go by faster by distracting ourselves or slow it down by trying to cram too much into every second of the day. How often do you find yourself either wishing for more time – “if only I had an extra hour in the day” or wishing time away – “when I get through this, life will get easier.” Yet, time is finite. We have no control over it. Whether we are wishing it away or hoping for more, the sand will continue to slip through the hour glass. What we can control is how we choose to experience the passing of time.
Practicing mindfulness is really an exercise in appreciating and embracing the passing of time. Each moment is a gift we can opt in or out of depending on how mindful we are at that time. When we are not present is when time can get tricky. Pleasurable experiences seem to evaporate before our eyes when we are focusing more on the fear or sadness that they will end. Uncomfortable moments seem to drag on when we are looking at the clock waiting for it to be over.
This week, see if you can bring mindfulness to the passing of time.
- Notice when you have feelings of either wishing time away or wanting to cling to a pleasurable moment.
- See if you can ground yourself in the moment, regardless of the experience of “bad” or “good.”
- Let go of those categories and just notice what you feel in your body, where your thoughts are going and bring yourself back to just this moment.
- If it is a pleasurable moment, soak it in. Really allow yourself to be in just that moment.
- If it is an uncomfortable or “boring” moment, remind yourself that the moment before has already passed and see if you can stay present for just this next moment.
Mindfulness is not only about bringing awareness to pleasurable moments. The practice of being present is also about the difficult moments. When we can be present for both, it only enhances the experiences of joy and builds resilience for the more difficult moments in life.
Mindful moments are short practices to be used throughout your week to relax, integrate and center yourself. Inspired by the wisdom traditions and science, mindful moments are meant to be accessible and simple enough for anyone to practice. Many teachers and leaders in integrative medicine have influenced our approach to mindful moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Pema Chodron would say it is “practicing in the gaps.” Look for the weekly mindful moment every Monday. May it support you in finding your center to live life to the fullest.
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