The past two weeks have been exceptionally sunny and warm, and I've been in better spirits as a result. I'm sitting in my front yard as I write this. It's nearly 80 degrees, and the sun is shining. June is enjoying it by my side.
I forget how important it is to be outside. It's very helpful for mindfulness, a topic I've spent this long weekend reading about. I was first introduced to the concept about a year ago, maybe, when I was struggling with anxiety. Mindfulness is known to help reduce anxious feelings. I tried practicing mindfulness while in the shower or walking to class, but it didn't stick. I didn't think I was doing it right.
So last week I decided to give it another shot- to pick up a book about it that I saw on Instagram. I got You are Here -- Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Life after college has been pretty routine for me, especially since I started working a 9-5 job at a corporate software company. The days, weeks, months fly by. Everything runs together into a big blur. It's terrifying. I feel numb most days-- like a zombie (a term this book uses to describe people who live in the past or the future, people who don't realize that life can only be lived in the here and now).
The trick to living in the present (opposite a zombie) is to practice mindfulness. And it turns out, there's no right or wrong way to be mindful. It's enough just to bring attention to your breath.
Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.
Another key element of mindfulness and presence is non-judgement. I tend to judge my feelings of irritation or anger, which I experience quite often. But these are parts of me. To practice mindfulness, one shouldn't be violent towards any emotions. One should hold on to his or her anger and show it love, according to Thich Nhat Hanh.
To love something is to understand it, to show it compassion, to be here for it. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests practicing this with everything around you, to be here -- to be present -- for the birds' songs, the sunset, your heart, your body.
If you are truly here and present, then and only then, can you recognize and be here for The Others -- the ones you care about.
The book (so far) never uses the word grateful and never says you should be thankful for the positive elements in your life. But that's how I've understood it. It has said to me, "to be mindful, one must take note of the things around him or her," and for me that's giving thanks. And that's what I'm hoping to do with Photos of Home.
Breathing in, I am mindful that I have eyes that are still in good condition. Breathing out, I smile to my eyes that are still in good condition... Some people wait until they have lost their sight to appreciate their eyes.
I am mindful of the sun... the trees... the wind... the sunset... my dad... June... Home... beauty... family... love.