How Mindfulness Transforms Ordinary into Extraordinary

Learn Mindfulness meditation

By Mary Jaksch

When the mind is neither in the past or the future and we are completely present, our experience changes in a significant way.

Suddenly life seems more spacious and more peaceful.

When we are mindful, we are available for life, and aren’t trapped in our own little world.

Whether it’s peacefulness, or anger, or boredom, or elation, or fear – mindfulness allows us to notice what we are experiencing right now.

Mindfulness means bringing full, soft attention to the task at hand.

All of us tend to let our mind drift when faced with a boring task. The good news is that if we pull ourselves back into the present moment, the task is transformed and boredom soon disappears. So, whether it’s washing the dishes, or cutting carrots, or driving in the rush hour – mindfulness can transform ‘lost’ time into islands of ease.

In his book The Miracle of Mindfulness,  Thich Nhat Hanh says:

The first function of mindfulness is to recognize what is there. The second function of mindfulness is to embrace it and to get deeply in touch with it.

The first step of mindfulness is to notice what our experience of this moment is like.

Whether it’s peacefulness, or anger, or boredom, or elation, or fear – mindfulness allows us to notice where we are at. But we need to go beyond that, we need to become intimate with what is there.

The second step of mindfulness is to connect so deeply that we become what we experience.

Pause for a moment, look away from the screen and take one complete, deep breath.

mindfulness

 

Did you experience your breath?

I expect you’ll say ‘yes’. But what about going deeper? Did you become the breath?

Mindfulness transforms

Thich Nath Hanh says:

There’s a seed of anger in every one of us. There is also a seed of fear, a seed of despair. And when the seed of anger or fear, we should be able to recognize it, to embrace it tenderly, and to transform it. And the agent of transformation and healing is called mindfulness.

Mindfulness has the power to transform clinging into generosity, anger into compassion, and isolation into intimacy.

It’s important to be compassionate towards the part of you that wants and wants and wants, and never gets what it yearns for. And with the part that is angry, or sullen, or resentful, or irritated. And with the part that is lonely, aloof, or preoccupied. Or with the part that is fearful, anxious, or rigid. Meet these parts of yourself with tender regard.

Here’s a simple way to practice mindfulness in everyday life:

Whenever you notice that your mind is straying away from the task at hand, stop for a moment. Then touch forefinger and thumb for one complete in-and out-breath. Then continue your task and notice what changes through becoming mindful.

What happens when you become mindful? Please share in the comments.

Images by pranavabiogis50, Steve Hanson.
Learn Mindfulness meditation

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  1. Marian says:

    I so appreciate the gift of kind and thoughtful words you send from time to time, like a refreshing drink of water. Heartfelt thanks.

  2. jared says:

    Great article and timing.

    I loved this especially, “The second step of mindfulness is to connect so deeply that we become what we experience.” I learned some of this from reading “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. In fact, I’ve read and tried to practice this a lot in the past few years. It does take conscience effort.

    I sort of realized what this was like when I started SCUBA diving. There’s so much wonder and awe that it is nearly impossible to live in the past or fear. Even at times when I have gotten a little anxious about being 60 feet underwater, I remind myself to concentrate on my breathing and stay focused on the wonders all around me. I’ve learned to sort of do this same thing now on dry land. 🙂

    Recently I was reading “Your Sacred Self” by Dr. Dyer. It’s funny how just reading one little thing can change your perspective or life experience. I’ve always believed in this energy that’s in all things, that we’re all connected. But there was this doubt attached, thus is why it was a belief and not a knowing.

    In reading “Your Sacred Self”, there’s a simple concept that really hit home for me and literally changed me:

    “The drop of iron that is in your blood today is a part of the total iron supply. Obviously it was someplace else before you were conceived. Fifteen million years ago it might have been part of an iron ore deposit in Afghanistan. Today it is part of the outer energy that is you.”

    The next day I was out taking a walk and break from work, usually it’s sort of hectic in my mind as I walk along a path in the woods near my office; thinking about work and having a racing mind. I remembered that passage about the iron in my blood, and how we are all the same energy; me, the trees, the flowers, the wind, etc.

    All of a sudden, it was like I was pulled out of a deep sleep and felt everything around me at once. It sounds weird, but it was pretty amazing. I felt the wind, smelled the lilacs, heard to trees, saw the butterfly, all at the same time and it was overwhelmingly beautiful. I thought to myself, “I feel the wind because the tree feels the wind, the tree feels the wind because I feel the wind.”

    Honestly I continued walking for a while and felt drunk or high. And I haven’t been drunk or high in over 6 years. It was amazing.
    jared´s last blog post ..HTBH 010: You Are Not Your Relationships

  3. Bobbi says:

    Mary, thanks for this reminder. I was just sitting here at my computer feeling frustrated with my backlog of work when I read this post. I took some deep breaths and really became aware of the moment and what is within it. My frustration melted away as I realized it is all about the future, not what is right here, right now.

    Thanks for this serenity break!
    Bobbi´s last blog post ..5 lessons on peace and mindfulness from a Samurai warrior

  4. Helen Graves says:

    Thanks for the quote from Thich Nhat Hanh about the agent of transformation being called mindfulness. I love that!

    Mindfulness is certainly an on-going practice. Sometimes I can forget to stay present in the time it takes to get up from my chair and walk to the door. 😉 Poof, it’s gone! The beauty of the practice is that we can always come back to the present at any moment, with no penalty. The Universe is so forgiving of our forgetfulness.

  5. Thanks Mary for sharing your thoughts in this Blog post!
    Every time I read your post, I end up feeling peaceful/connected and empowered.
    Thanks again!

    Now coming to your question

    What happens when you become mindful?

    1. I feel very connected to my core self/Higher Unknown self/Child like self.
    2. I feel very peaceful and abundant.
    3. I feel empowered and am able to make decisions that to the best of my knowledge are for the Highest Good of all concerned.
    4. I am able to transform the negative emotions that disrupt my body’e energy system into positive emotions that helps me think clearly.

  6. Sheyi says:

    Whenever you notice that your mind is straying away from the task at hand, stop for a moment. Then touch forefinger and thumb for one complete in-and out-breath. Then continue your task and notice what changes through becoming mindful.
    Sheyi´s last blog post ..Colin Wright Interview: World Traveler And Entrepreneur

  7. With practice I’ve learned how to move from cranky/angry/hectic/anxious to feeling completely happy and at ease in one breath through mindfulness. As soon as I slow down enough to realize that I’m stressing about all the work I haven’t done yet instead of noticing what I’m doing at the moment, I see how silly it is. Worrying and stressing won’t change anything. They’ll actually slow me down and move me further from completing the things I’m stressing about by sucking my energy and focus. Once I forget about the future and focus on here and now, I relax and smile and feel just fine. And whatever is in front of me becomes much nicer and more beautiful.

    As the snow is melting and the days are warmer, my kids can’t wait to get outside and I’m so happy about that. We live in the woods and many times it takes their urgings to get me outside to enjoy and revel in the beauty that I’m surrounded by. Whenever I’m outside I breathe more deeply and slow down to notice the birds, trees, wind, smells, how the ground feels in each season. And I say many thanks for having it all in my life.

    Mary, I love the photos in this post! They instantly bring on a sense of calm and serenity and almost force mindfulness (if that’s possible) in the moment. Thank you for that!
    Paige | simple mindfulness´s last blog post ..Simple Steps to Creating Productivity Habits

  8. […] I missed out a bit in the middle: We fell in love and we married wo years after he first played to me. Once he’d finished his studies, we moved to New Zealand with our baby son, Sebastian. We stayed together for seven years, and then divorced. But we are still best friends.” Mary Jaksch of  Good Life ZEN […]

  9. Lynn Hess says:

    “It’s important to be compassionate towards the part of you that wants and wants and wants, and never gets what it yearns for. And with the part that is angry, or sullen, or resentful, or irritated. And with the part that is lonely, aloof, or preoccupied. Or with the part that is fearful, anxious, or rigid. Meet these parts of yourself with tender regard.”

    Thanks so much, Mary, for the reminder of this! Even when I’m doing well at remembering to be mindful, it’s forgetting this that can trip me up. Even just reading what you wrote here made me sigh “ahhhhh” and give my inner self a little love 🙂

    • Zenshin Justin Mc Carthy says:

      Thank you Lynn,

      Compassion is the ” heart ” of being peaceful and loved.

      Seeing Buddha nature in all beings is seeing the good iside them.

      With deep bows,

      Zenshin Justin

  10. Ben says:

    I find the best way to be mindful and in the moment is to work on letting go of the things that are stopping you from doing so.

    Such as negative emotions, beliefs, past memories and limiting programming that is stopping you from really being in the moment, focusing on what your doing. This may need to be done in several areas to really get there.

    The more I let go of stuff, the more I am in the moment, the less I think, because that stuff isn’t there in the background anymore.

    -Ben
    Ben´s last blog post ..USING YOUR ‘TRIGGERS’ AND WHAT COMES UP IN EVERYDAY LIFE TO ACCELERATE YOUR HEALING AND FREEDOM.

  11. Galen Pearl says:

    Thanks for this simple technique, which I immediately tried!
    Galen Pearl´s last blog post ..Code to Joy

  12. Rose Byrd says:

    Dear Mary–this is such a great post! I cannot believe how much it helped me within the first minute! I was taught by wonderful people all of my life how to truly focus on the task at hand-but this technique of putting finger and thumb together and “becoming” the deep breath itself is just amazing!
    Rose Byrd´s last blog post .."That everyone you meet today will be blessed by your presence…."

  13. Oh, Mary, this is just perfect for me today! I’ve been very mindfully practicing mindfulness lately.

    In fact, just this morning, I was doing an exercise I learned from Eckhart Tolle similar to the breath exercise you mention, but with feeling the “inner body”. And as you do it, you eventually let the separation between you and your body dissolve and you become that energy, much like how, in yours, you become the breath.

    I love your posts where you share your expertise in these areas. Thank you.
    Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being´s last blog post ..Super Busy? Plug-and-Play Meditations :: Plus a Giveaway!

  14. mindfulness, or awareness, is key to change. we need to be mindful of what we are inside and what we want!
    Noch Noch
    Noch Noch | be me. be natural.´s last blog post ..why “work-life” balance? advocating a 3.5 day weekend

  15. Anita Lim says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post!
    I have been working on being more mindful for some years now & the practise is definitely paying off. When I am properly mindful I am ‘in flow’ as I am gently & totally focussed on what I’m doing. I practise a martial art called aikido & this happens much more regularly, on & off the mat.
    Anita Lim´s last blog post ..Blogging from A to Z challenge reflections

  16. […] acting from fear or telling yourself stories about the future that create negative feelings, simply notice what you’re doing and thinking, without judging yourself or getting caught up in yet another […]

  17. […] help you better connect and work in unison with the universe. In addition to the many benefits of mindfulness, awareness allows you to be in sync with the […]

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