‘The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion’
Thich Naht Hanh
I took time out today to go for a walk in some woodlands nearby. As you can see from the picture, it was a beautiful autumnal day and I was captivated by the colours and smells.
I decided to walk mindfully through the trees and take the time to notice all of the rich reds and browns of the carpet of leaves and feel them gently crunch beneath my feet. It was a cool day with just a slight breeze to make my skin tingle. I reached out and felt the rough, dry bark of a tree intrigued by nature’s energy flowing through the woods.
Stillness was everywhere, but in the distance, the sounds of countryside life could be heard; birds singing, the ‘whoosh’ as ducks landed in the nearby lake.
It was easy to be completely in the moment in such a peaceful place, with all the beauty surrounding me, but I reminded myself that a person can be mindful – even in the busiest environment. All that I need to do is focus on the present moment.
So here’s a challenge for you this week. Be present in the moment at least once each day. For example, when you next visit the supermarket, focus on everything that you see, hear, smell and feel as you walk up and down the aisles. Concentrate only on what is immediately around you! Notice the colourful labels, the smell of the freshly baked bread – even the sound of the other customers going about their shopping.
The present moment is the only thing that you have any control over. The present moment is where you live – you do not have control over the past or future; the past is only a set of memories in your mind; the future has not yet happened (and is notoriously difficult to predict – even five minutes ahead).
Research has shown that mindfulness improves well-being (Carmody & Baer, 2008) and reduces psychological distress (Hayes, 2011).
Carmody, J & Baer, R.A (2008) ‘Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness based stress reduction program’. Journal of Behavioral Science. Vol 31 pp 23-33.
Hayes, J.A. (2011). ‘What are the benefits of Mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research’. Psychotherapy Vol 48 (2), pp 198-208.