Why is it Simple to be Mindful, but Not Easy?

Jade, a thirty-year-old woman, sums up how tough it is to be in the present: Despite gorgeous sunny weather and an awesome beach, all I could think about while on vacation in Mexico was whether I should be in Hawaii or another Central American country. “If I'm not going to be here, why bother going out at all?” I finally reasoned. Given how obvious and quick mindfulness can be, and despite its many benefits, actually doing it is a different story. 

Being conscious is a straightforward task. Stop reading for a second and feel your nose and body draw a single breath. In that one breath, you are fully present. In this single moment of time, you are conscious. Being mindful is easy, but remembering to be mindful can be difficult. 

We are conditioned to be anything but mindful in our culture. Virtually mindless competitiveness, busyness, pace, and quality are all validated in the prevailing American culture. Being there is the last thing we want to do. We want to achieve our goals, excel, and deliver results. Those of us who excel at doing seem to do well with many of our organizations and businesses. Those that aren't are more likely to fall behind. 

But this is life in the twenty-first century in America, and to a growing extent, around the world. We've been so dependent on doing that we've forgotten how to be, and the toll this has on our physical, social, and emotional well-being is tangible. If the saying goes, we've evolved into "human doings" rather than "human beings." 

Many chronic illnesses (pain, depression, heart disease) will occur when the doing and becoming aspects of ourselves are out of control, according to the science sections of this book. Mindfulness is a technique for rebalancing the act of doing and being. 

It's been too common to be constantly busy that many of us can't stand the sensation of having to stop and slow down. I know a guy who can't walk down the street without talking on his phone or reading a book because he can't stand the frustration of being unstimulated. Josh, a beginner meditation practitioner, claims that he never prefers to be still during his waking hours. Even while he's relaxing, he watches TV or surfs the Internet while listening to instrumental music in the background. His first forays into mindfulness were discouraging because the sensation of being alone with himself was unfamiliar and unsettling. 

When he had too much to do to run a good firm, he couldn't see the point of wasting five minutes in silence by himself. When he had all those "critical" things to do, he concluded that a period of silence and self-inquiry was a waste of time. Mindfulness training will begin anywhere. 

You just need to take a minute to pay attention to yourself whether you are busy, overwhelmed, nervous, depressed, frustrated, calm, or exhausted. You have tuned into the force of mindfulness if you can stop, breathe, and remember what is happening right now. This seemingly insignificant behavior may have a huge impact on your well-being and serve as a mental health "seat belt."

You may also want to read more about Mindfulness Meditation and Healing here.