imagine how it might feel to see the world, and our life as it is, free of our opinions and projections? If you’ve ever watched a young child see snow or bubbles for the first time, you know exactly what that sense of curiosity—that sense of awe and won- der—looks and feels like. Mindfulness invites us to experience life in an alert, non- judgmental moment-to-moment way that elicits our natural sense of curiosity, excites our senses, and makes our life so much more interesting and fulfilling. Rather than move through life on auto- pilot, unaware of the wonders of the world—the multitude of trees and plants whose lives bless and support us, birds and squirrels who delight us with their songs and sounds, colorful leaves as they fall to the earth, the sacred silence of snow—Mind- fulness helps us notice it all, as if for the first time. Lest you get the wrong idea, Mindfulness isn’t about creating

a world of Pollyannas (people who are considered excessively optimistic), but helps us see the world for what it is, as it is, but without the personal trappings and conditioning that preclude real seeing.

Mindfulness is, in many ways, a reality check, inviting us to

see what is true in the moment. When our thoughts wander to the past, to regrets, to wrongs done—when we ruminate—we’re missing the reality that right now, all is well. (Rumination, by the way, is now thought to be one of the greatest causes of stress.) By the same token, worrying about the future (as if worrying ever changes anything) also makes us miss the reality of the present. When we bring in-the-moment awareness to our experience, we discover that there is no right or wrong, no inherently good

or bad feeling or thought. Thoughts become a problem when we believe them to be truth. With mindfulness we recognize that a feeling is a feeling; a thought simply a thought. As witness to their comings and goings, we no longer attempt to deny our joys or our struggles, but with full acceptance of our present experi- ence, discover a peace and a power that we didn’t know was possible.

A World of Distraction Whether we feel stressed or relaxed depends on our ability

to notice the present, in-the-moment experience and without resisting or judging it, simply recognize that we are having feel- ings. In that singular moment of recognition, we can take a breath and feel the stress fall away—If only for that brief moment. The more we notice, the more we are able to choose our response. From that calm place of acceptance, we are at choice; we can revive the stress or we can remain calm. The capacity to notice our thoughts and feelings requires

practice. Mindfulness practice is really a training of attention; of noticing when we’re distracted or anxious and returning our at- tention again and again to the moment. Thanks to Mindfulness training, we can transform our experience of life as we recognize the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and opinions that have been in- forming and limiting our experience. Following that recognition, we can opt to change how we relate to the world and ourselves, and in that choosing, release both our inner and outer critic. In addition to our internal projections and opinions about how life ‘should’ be, we who live in the ‘developed’ world, are


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