Meditation can be intimidating. I think there are two camps when it comes to fearing meditation. Either – “Wow I can’t imagine being able to clear my thoughts completely, how can you think about nothing? I won’t be able to do that” OR “Meditation?! Sorry I’m not into voodoo!”.  Both of these reactions are based on misinformation and that’s why I think the term “mindfulness” has become such a popular buzzword. It’s safer! Its also more accessible…

Although mindfulness is a natural outcome of meditation, we can also practice mindfulness by ourselves. Any moment in which our mind is in the present moment is a mindful moment. It can be anytime – while cooking, playing our favorite musical instrument, driving, watering the plants, while drinking our first cup of tea in the morning, or even at work.(1)

Mindfulness is certainly not new, its roots are thousands of years old. The origins are in Eastern religions – primarily Hinduism and Buddhism. Both religions are greatly concerned with the concept of dharma, a concept that is very difficult to define or translate but includes a way of life that is in harmony with the natural order of the universe. (2)

I find this last part helpful and to keep the intent of the practice which is to live in harmony with the universe front and center.

Even though you can find mindful moments anywhere I find nature to be the ultimate inspiration when practicing mindfulness (and probably the easiest setting). Away from all of the stress, responsibilities, and noise of life – being in nature brings a sense of peace and the quiet needed to explore what’s right in front of you. Trees, flowers, mountains, streams ground us. Using all of your senses explore the world around you. Listen to the sounds of the leaves rustling – feel the warmth from the sun on your skin – take in the scent of wildflowers or pine trees – study the clouds and let your mind wander.

If you need some additional support there are a ton of guided meditations available as apps or online, as well as scripts you can adopt for your own use. Here is one example of a guided meditation script that seems appropriate for use outdoors on a sunny day: http://www.exploremeditation.com/dl/eb/White-Light-Protection-Guided-Meditation-Script.pdf

Mindfulness comes in many shapes and sizes and doesn’t have a “right or wrong way”. It doesn’t mean you have to sit with legs crossed for hours at a time and what’s so great about exploring mindfulness is you can do it anywhere, it just takes practice.

(1) https://www.artofliving.org/meditation/meditation-for-you/mindfulness-through-meditation

(2) https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/history-of-mindfulness/

Photo Credit: Amanda Kearney-Smith, West Maroon Bells Pass

Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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