One of the things I love about mindfulness is the constant invitation to go deeper. Even a few breaths can get you started, shifting from hectic and harried to calmer and more peaceful as you gain perspective on the thoughts and emotions racing around.
As you spend more time practicing, and perhaps experiment with different types of mindfulness, your experience can be as varied as the landscape of your mind, the contours of your life events, the intentions you bring to your practice, and the environment of your present moment.
Walt Whitman famously said, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” Indeed, we all contain multitudes—an ever-changing kaleidoscope of thoughts, feelings, and perspectives—and we are surrounded by worlds of opportunities for growth.
I’ve been practicing variations on mindfulness since my early twenties. One of my first introductions came when I was a young editor, researching an article about something called Morita therapy that was based on three tenets: Accept your feelings, know your purpose, and do what needs to be done. I loved the idea that our feelings were like clouds in the sky, worth observing, but fleeting and impermanent. Experimenting with this view, I would walk to work in the morning along the East River in New York City, my footfalls and breath like a metronome anchoring me in the present, while I allowed my thoughts, feelings, memories, and fantasies to arise, moving across the sky of my mind. (Oh! The clouds that appeared on those walks!) I knew that by the time I was crossing First, Second, and Third Avenues, I needed to check in with my purpose and by the time I was at Park and Madison, arriving at the office, I had a clear sense of what needed to be done.
What started, then, as a daily experiment of observing my thoughts and feelings has shape-shifted over time. I‘d like to think that my perspective has shifted, too, perhaps to a state of “less me” as founding editor Barry Boyce describes in his deep tour of mindfulness—but always with an appreciation for the opportunity to go deeper, to feel more alive and aware of what is going on inside and around me.
With mindfulness, you are always invited to explore with curiosity and kindness as your companions. For inspiration and a sense of the possibilities, I hope you’ll check out Barry’s piece and the beautiful accompanying tree of practices to see what beckons you.