There is an increasing interest in mindfulness, a practice with origins in Buddhism which has been westernized and is being used to help reduce stress. In mindfulness, the focus is on increasing awareness. It includes dedicated practice periods during which one sits still and pays attention only to their breathing. But it is also a way of life which differentiates constantly doing from awareness of simple being.
In my practice, I teach clients a simple acronym which captures several of the most fundamental components in practicing mindfulness. Compass, an instrument for determining direction, spelled COMNPAAS, in helpful in remembering several paths for capturing the benefits of mindfulness.
C is for Choices: We focus on replacing automatic reactions, thoughts, and behaviors with carefully chosen responses, attitudes, and actions.
OM is for Observing thoughts as Mental Events: We realize that our brain generates many thoughts, but they don’t all reflect what we really believe or know to be true.
N is for Nourishing: We pay attention to caring for ourselves. We balance work with rest, relaxation, and recreation. We engage in healthy living with good food, exercise, and sleep.
P is for Present: We benefit in learning from the past and in preparing for the future, but only in being fully aware of everything available to us in each present moment can we ever enjoy the abundance all around us.
A is for Approach: We are able to be approach, understand, and make a place in our mind for our losses, disappointments, or defeats without having to anxiously avoid, resist, or deny them.
A is for Acceptance: We can accept life without having to correct every injustice we encounter, perfect every single thing we do, or strive to eliminate every way in which we are ever in any way deficient.
S is for Sensing: With heightened awareness, we are able to enjoy all the beautiful things we see, feel the movement throughout our body as we walk around, and, of course, smell the roses!
When time is taken to sit still and focus on each breath going in and going out, we can settle pleasantly into a state of being in which we are more aware of what really means the most to us in our lives.
In practicing mindfulness, we can also focus singularly on the glory of God. Christians can focus on the way of Christ in their own lives. Being mindful is to be aware and to appreciate what really means the most, and what really means the most is who we love and who loves us.