Suppose that you are running a little late for a Yoga class. You enter the studio just as they shut the doors. How do you place your Yoga mat on the floor? Think for a moment.
Do you play cool and slap the mat down kicking up dust in the faces of your classmates (that arrived on time) laying down next to you? Are you frantic or frazzled? Do you push your way in to make some space expecting people to move out of their way? Do you play a victim? Are you embarrassed? Maybe you walk right in like you own the place carrying a little bit of arrogance or pride? Are you apologetic? Are you grateful to be there? Are you mindful or careful not to step on people while you humbly look for some opening on the floor?
Now think about how the people around you react as you make your way into the studio? Do they make an effort to give you space? Are they cold and ignore you? Do they make any comments behind your back or give you the evil eye? Are they welcoming, kind and compassionate?
Mind the Gap
What is mindfulness? Have you ever taken the London Underground (Tube)? If so, you probably heard announcements or saws signs posted that said “Mind the Gap”. These warnings were designed to bring your awareness to the gap between the train and the platform. If people were not so mindful about that gap, they could trip, fall, and probably get hurt. So mindfulness is bringing your gift of awareness to the present moment, which could be catching the Tube, walking, eating, talking, shopping, driving, waking up, being alive, etc.
Why is this such a big deal? If we are not present, (i.e. our awareness is somewhere else) say when we are speaking “with” someone we might as well have the earphones in listening to music while we act as if we are conversing with another human being. On a consciousness level, if we are not present, our waking state would start to resemble your dream state, seriously. Some people are okay with this. Some people are not even aware of this. Without practicing mindfulness, we are bound to suffer. When we practice mindfulness, we take steps towards freedom.
The next time you converse with someone, anyone, really listen when they speak to you. Avoid formulating your next response, avoid defending yourself, avoid analysing, just listen. To be truly listening, the mind must be still (what a nice benefit!). It is easy when you are a music lover, and you listen to music. Why don’t we pay that much attention to someone speaking right in front of us? Try it. When you practice being mindful, notice how the people around you start to react.