Mindfulness is a fundamental and crucial element of Buddhist principles. In my best attempt to explain, it is being entirely present, moment-to-moment, with openness and acceptance to all that may come your way. Essentially, moment-to-moment awareness of present events.

In theory, this sounds especially simple. In practice, however, it is anything but. Of course, so many of us spend far too much time dwelling on what will be and what has happened in our lives, but little to no time being fully present and enjoying the moment we are living right now.  We’re all guilty of this. We occupy our thoughts in negative moments from our past and we focus our attention on what may be coming in the future. This causes us much extraneous stress and takes us out of the present moment we are actually in. We live in this very moment, but we cannot completely appreciate it unless we are fully present in it. Letting go of your past and your future is an art.

We do not dance to get to another place on the dance floor; we dance to have fun, to enjoy ourselves. We don’t judge musicians on their ability to finish the song faster than the other guy; we listen to enjoy the music…the harmonies and the words. A good meal isn’t devoured to only supply nutrients; it should be enjoyed (this is a practice that healthy eaters do daily to prevent “bored eating”). We don’t make love with our partner to finish quickly (at least we shouldn’t, and if we do, it isn’t good love at least). In this way, like dancing, listening to music, and making love, we should also be mindful of our present moment.

Every day, spend some time focusing on nothing more than your breathing. Relax and enjoy the fact that you are alive and in this world. When you hear a bird chirping, stop and be present in that moment. Enjoy the song that the bird is singing. When you are waiting in line, watch people and focus on here and now. No distractions.

Put away your phones, walk away from the television set, and practice mindfulness.

Travis Barton