I went to Bhutan last year and had the unique experience of doing my morning mindfulness meditation to the sound of a dozen or more barking dogs across the river. It was wild! And it provided a great learning opportunity.
Part of what makes the practice of mindfulness so uniquely powerful is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. You don’t need some silent, pristine moment; you can practice mindfulness simply by directing your focused attention to whatever is going on around you.
For me that morning, it was a chorus of barking dogs.
Then, below that, I began to observe other sounds – the birds chirping, a car horn in the distance, the rustling of the trees. I also looked all around me and used my eyes mindfully. I watched the motion of the river; I gazed at the broad vista of mountains and buildings and trees. I took some slow, deep breaths and took it all in, really savoring the beauty of the moment.
Find a few minutes in your day to practice mindfulness, whether that’s in your car after you park and before you head into a store or appointment (as long as you are in a safe place to do so), or maybe at your desk at the office as you complete a task and before you start your next one. Turn your mindful attention to what is already happening in your world and you will practice flexing that “brain muscle” so you can tap into mindfulness when you need it most in moments of stress or duress.
It’s called a mindfulness “practice” because we need to practice it!