“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
How can you focus on being mindful of the external activities around you while the busy buddies in your head are jumping on different time machines traveling from the past to the future and mostly making long stops at unpleasant stations along the way? At times the turmoil in your head becomes worrisome that you need to ship magic bullets in the form of sugar cravings or any other substance abuse to quiet them. It is a challenge to be present and being mindful, but one that if meshed into our daily life, it will be amazingly rewarding. Remember when you were a child, delighted to look at an object with your eyes wide open without expecting anything from it. You were simply absorbed in the experience without any preconceived idea. Just a “beginner’s mind”, no clutter, no concept, no meaning, no assumptions, no colour or shape. You were just fascinated. As Psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion said, “being mindful is like taking photos, we learn to see without memory or desire.”
Precisely, a photograph captures a moment in time and you will see things as they are and mostly you see things that normally you ignore. This is to be mindful. Simply being immersed in the experience without any distortion by our perceptions. By being mindful, you become receptive and see endless possibilities that exist within the world.
As Monet said, “to see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.”
Focusing to be mindful is to learn how not to rush and wait which involves letting go. “Great understanding is broad and unhurried, little understanding is cramped and busy.” Chuang-Tzu
So how to focus on being mindful? Imagine you are a photographer exploring and embracing every opportunity. You want to seize the moment and see things around you. To embrace the chance you don’t bother about the techniques, the light or the subject, you adopt a “yes” attitude pushing away the blocking emotions. You just let go! You let go of expectations, perfectionism, comparing yourself to others and be open! By letting go you don’t rush into judgment. As in photography, you accept the scenery without labeling or categorizing.
With practice and dedication, you will find harmony between your concentration and being mindful. A process that allows you to be highly sensitive to your surroundings, interested, approachable and open. Your field of view is expanded and you become aware of something new. Something that you can zoom in, investigate, record it and zoom out.
Featured image by STÉPHANE BARBERY