As the speed of modern life increases, as we become ever more immersed in our technologies, as the boundary between our professional and our personal lives becomes blurred and then erased: in the midst of this headlong acceleration, many people feel the need to slow down, look around, and figure things out.
The recent groundswell of interest in the many practices of mindfulness – in meditation, in the garden, on the trail, in the shop, or on the mat – is a signal about our awareness of the need to correct the trajectory, find balance, and connect with ourselves and one another. Mindful practices help to bring us back to the centre.
We’ve been taught that mindfulness practices originate in the Asian meditative traditions, particularly Buddhism and Taoism. While it’s true that those traditions are suffused with a variety of approaches and practices of mindfulness, the act of mindful attention is in fact foundational to cultural traditions throughout the world. Learning to play a musical instrument is (or should be) a mindful practice. Developing skill in any sport requires tremendous focus and mindfulness (especially with breathing and body awareness). The multitude of craft traditions – woodworking, cooking, sewing, weaving – as well as their companion arts – singing, dancing, writing, performing – all require the careful and intentional development of mindful practices.
Mindfulness if the quality of presence and attentiveness that we can bring to any human activity. It is intimately connected with a wide range of personal skills such as empathy, self-regulation, and self-awareness. Recently I facilitated a workshop for educators in which we explored various approaches to mindfulness and ways of implementing those practices both in the classroom and in daily life.