The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.–Jon Kabat Zinn
No doubt, you’ve heard of the power of being mindful. Given the uncertainty and stress of our times, more people are engaging in mindfulness practices. For many, this is taking a few moments of silence. Some people recite a mantra to themselves such as the word “one” or notice the pattern of their breath. One person I know catches herself in this way. She realizes she is thinking about what she needs to do, and she gently goes back to reciting her word or noticing her breath. There are many other forms of practice.
However, many of my clients say they don’t have the interest or time for this kind of meditation. In fact, you can enhance your mindfulness by simply paying attention more. Ellen Langer, Harvard researcher, says that “mindfulness is an effortless, simple process that consists of drawing novel distinctions, that is noticing new things.” We have formed many habits and find ourselves driving to work, attending meetings and doing the dishes without awareness. You’ve had the experience of somehow eating a whole bag of chips without recalling the experience — or of arriving at your destination without awareness of the ride.
You have also enjoyed the experience of being fully engaged in something such as an art project, game or a conversation. You are present to the experience and noticing new connections.
If we focus on being a bit more observant, present and curious rather than judgmental we are likely to experience more aliveness and creativity and less stress.
Be mindful by practicing paying attention and noticing new things.