Stop and Notice - A Practice
by Martin Stepek
You are reading this, so you are being mindful for the moment. Good. So let's take the opportunity to do a practice. It'll only take as long as you'll take to read this. And reading this will be your guide.
Assuming you're dressed, even if you're in your pyjamas, simply start to notice the feel of your clothes on your body. Anywhere is OK but usually the easiest is around your shoulders or the top of your back. Maybe your arms if you're wearing something long-sleeved.
Now adjust your attention. Our default mode is usually a little bit tense, hard. Allow your attention to feel like it is becoming lighter, floating rather than forced. As if it floats above your head and sits there without any effort or energy required to sustain it. Now your attention is very light, effortless, and as a result it is also clearer, sharper.
Just feel what it is like. For most of us now clothing usually means cotton, and the cotton has been finely honed until it is very soft to your skin. Notice it.
Notice its softness.
Notice the warmth it holds in around you.
Notice the sense of touch. Then - and this is a separate experience - the pleasant feeling that appears to your mind.
Now notice the fact that your mind and body were experiencing all of these related sensations but your mind was not consciously registering them to you as things worth noticing, experiencing, and most of all, enjoying.
Now pay attention, lightly, effortlessly, but very clearly to the sensation of your feet on the ground. If you can't put your feet on the ground then simply notice how your feet feel cosseted by your socks and / or shoes; and if you're barefooted sense what it is like for your feet to be in contact with the air where you are.
Notice any warmth, any areas of tightness, area where your feet or toes or ankles can move relatively freely. See if you can flex any parts of your feet, and if so, notice the pleasantness to the mind of loosening and stretching parts of your feet.
And that's it. A few moments experiencing what is actually going on. You didn't have to do anything extra to engage in this practice; all you needed to do was notice what was already happening but under your radar.
This is mindfulness is real life. Mindfulness is not simply sitting for some minutes with our eyes closed focusing on the breath. That practice helps but it is not the be all and end all of mindfulness. Being mindful of everyday things in life - that's the real practice; that's the whole point, to be in the present moment in all its richness. Enjoy it.
Martin Stepek is one of Scotland's foremost teachers in Mindfulness, a published author of three books in the field and a poet. He is co-founder of Ten for Zen a website which aims to bring mindfulness into the lives of individuals across the UK and beyond. To read more about his background visit his website. Martin is a supporter of Wee Seeds growth.