Being in the here and now with Mindfulness

I see him every morning.  The man that walks to work reading a book.   My first thoughts were “wouldn’t it be funny if he walked into that lamp post?”  and then my second was “I wonder how many books he reads a year”.    But then ultimately my thoughts turned to what a shame it is that he is not in the here and now.  He is not mindful of what is going on around him.   By being face down and absorbed in that book he is not noticing his immediate surroundings.    He isn’t mindful of what is going on.

I have been meaning to write about mindfulness for a long time.  I am a huge believer in it, of being aware of smells, sounds, what is happening around you.    How can that man be aware of that when he is reading a book?   How can he notice the changing colours of the leaves?   The birdsong?   The smell from the house on the corner that is owned by the lady who makes wedding cakes and always has the window open?

This was also going through my mind as the world went crazy last night for the Robbie Williams video that went viral.   If you haven’t seen it, it’s here

Robbie sharing with us the fact his wife was in labour with their second child.   There are actually five videos.  First of all I thought “typical Robbie always the showman” and then I thought “she is going to kill him” before it struck me that he is not IN the moment.   He doesn’t appear to be in the here and now, focussing on his wife.  It is all about him, and him being centre of attention.   He is demanding her attention in parts of that video he is not really paying her any attention at all.

Is he mindful of the pain she is going through?  Yes, I know he is just trying to help but what about asking her what she wants?  Or just keeping it private?  It is always possible of course that in her birth plan it stated that he was to dance to his own videos in an effort to get her through labour, but to share?   Is that really what Ayda wanted?   Was Robbie mindful of her at that point?

I guess we will never know but my point is that mindfulness should be about being in the moment, focussing on what is going on around you.   I am really not sure Robbie Williams does that.   Sitting quietly with his wife and saying how much he is looking forward to their son arriving.    Just holding her hand.   Helping her through the pain.   Mindful of the fact he is in a hospital and not centre stage at Wembley.

Do we do it when we watch X Factor and tweet along?  Are we actually watching X Factor or are we too busy tweeting about what we just witnessed and missing something else? I know I do it with Strictly, where I tweet something and then because I am looking down I miss something the judges then refer to.

How many people on the daily commute are really mindful and aware of what is going on around them?  Plugged into ipods or reading the paper and not taking in the changing seasons, or noticing what is going on around them?   Next time you go for a walk look at the people around you.  How many are on their phones?  Just generally oblivious to where they are.    I bet quite a lot of them.

I learned about mindfulness from Andy Puddicombe who ran a seminar a few years ago.  Andy is one of the most interesting people I have ever heard speak, and if you ever have a chance to attend a “Headspace” event, do.  Funnily enough the exercise I remember the most involved chocolate.   Not just shoving chocolate in our mouths, but connecting to it.   No, don’t look at me like that.   It really worked.   Thinking about the cocoa tree, the plant it had come from, about the person who picked it.   How it had been manufactured.   Holding the chocolate, feeling it, then smelling it.   I tell you what when you have held a piece of chocolate and become mindful of it and its origins it tastes like no piece of chocolate you have ever tasted before.

I just hope that Robbie Williams looks back on his son’s entrance to the world and remembers it for all the right reasons, and not for the viral video.

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  • I am also a massive believer in mindfulness, and not just because of all the things that can be missed, but also because it is so helpful for changing habits. To stop doing something, you need to be aware you are doing it in the first place. Habits such as nail biting are done without us even noticing most of the time. Great post, which has reminded me to be more mindful!

  • I am a Mindfulness teacher and for many people Mindfulness and meditation can be life changing. With regular practise real benefits can be achieved and as the article above says that we are so unaware of what is going on a lot of the time and operating on automatic pilot that life is not as rich as it can be and we do not ‘get our moments worth’. We spend so much time ‘living in our heads’ either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future that we do not connect with the present moment and the many exciting aspects of life that if we are not careful just pass us by. All of the many sights, sounds, colours, smells etc that we are missing out on and not aware off. When someone asks me what the time is, I reply ‘it is now’! The present moment is all there is. We all have just moments to live, one after the other, moment by moment, awareness of our present moment experience. When we are operating in the here and now, our connection with other people, nature, animals etc can be deeper which can enhance and enrich our lives to be happier, more meaningful and more fulfilled than engaging in mental time travel of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future!

    • Hi John. Thanks so much for your comment and for your insights into the subject. It really is a fascinating subject, and one that I am keen to learn more about.

  • A thought-provoking post and I think that mindfulness is something I definitely need to work on. I’m not always in the moment as my mind’s often racing ahead to thoughts of what’s next.
    I think that Mr Williams may well look back on those videos in a few years and wonder what the hell he was thinking!

  • FAB post and especially timely with it being half term for some of us. In the ques at a theme park at the weekend, I felt sad as everyone was looking down at their phones, and not connecting on possibly their one family day of fun together. We’re all guilty of it, but I’m really trying to be in the moment more. Not so “life through a lens” as I like to think of it! LIVING the moment, not trying to capture it xx

  • Wow, T, my mind is officially blown. I am SO NEVER in the moment! Social media has spoiled me for life! I need mindfulness big time! Thank you for sharing!

    Karin xx

    • It is like a lightbulb going off isnt it? It just makes sense. I find I dont do it all the time but sometimes I will watch a TV programme and when its ended I have no idea what’s happened because I haven’t concentrated. Or I will drive to school and think “I have no recollection of how I got here”. Just spending ten minutes really taking in sights and smells makes all the difference. Andy talked about being a monk and it taking over an hour to eat a bowl of rice. Really savouring every mouthful, thikning about the paddy field and the farmer. I eat a meal in about five minutes generally! That chocolate mindfulness exercise blew my mind. A tiny bar of Green and Black’s and I never looked at chocolate the same way again.