It was the second week of the Wake Up To Your Life Webinar and someone asked, “Why does it matter? What does Looking Up (the session’s activity) have to do with mindfulness?”
What a great question! I know why Looking Up is a great exercise to increase my mindfulness and presence. I attempted to explain. The explanation helped but it did not satisfy this participant’s curiosity. Someone else shared a story that provided a helpful insight. It was a great discussion.
Since that session, I have been seeking the perfect explanation. I read about mindfulness more than anything at the moment. I believe the only way one truly lives and experiences one’s life is to be mindful. To be mindful, you must be present. To be present, distractions must be minimized. These things can only be done when paying attention. Looking Up is simply an activity or exercise to help pay attention. Exploring my personal mindfulness and becoming more present is changing my life. But please know, I don’t want to be mindful and present all the time. I love to daydream. I enjoy planning for the future and I believe there is a wealth of information in past experiences. Some of my most creative and productive times are when my mind is bouncing all over. Yes, I want it all.
In his book, Looking at Mindfulness, Christophe Andre illustrates how to approach our lives as living works of art. Each lesson in mindfulness is accompanied by an extraordinary painting. When discussing The Magpie by Claude Monet, Andre provides what I believe to be the perfect response to why Looking Up impacts mindfulness and the ability to Wake Up To Your Life.
Decide to inhabit the present moment
Mindfulness teaches us to open our eyes. It is important to do this because, here and now, there are worlds around us that we constantly ignore. We can enter them by interrupting the automatic flow of our actions and thoughts.
It’s true that access to these worlds of the present moment is made easier by external gifts, such as the sun, snow and magpie of Monet’s painting. But it also requires a decision on our part to open ourselves up as often as we can to being touched, contacted and struck by life. This is an act of deliberate awareness. We must decide to open our mind’s door to all that lies beyond it, rather than hiding away in one of our inner fortresses, such as rumination, reflection, certainty or expectation.
Mindfulness is also liberating. It frees us from thoughts of the future or past, because it pulls us back into the present. And it liberates us from our value judgements, because it pulls us back into presence. Our minds are cluttered with so many things! Some are important, some are interesting and some are completely pointless and futile. The pointless things hinder our vision and connection with the world. We need the past and the future, our memories and projects but we also need the present. Both past and future matter. The philosophy of the present moment doesn’t see it as better than the past or future, just more fragile. It is the present that we must protect, because it vanishes from our awareness whenever we are rushed or busy. We must give the present the space in which to exist.
Take time to Look Up, to open your eyes and interrupt the automatic flow of your actions and thoughts. Take time to make a deliberate act of awareness. Take time to Wake Up To Your Life!
Can Looking Up promise to make you more mindful? Join our discussions and check it out for yourself. We are a group of mindful explorers, a discussion group, a work in progress, an opportunity to share. Learn more about the Wake Up To Your Life Webinar.
Share your questions, comments, ideas below.