In many far east countries, people hang bells on doors in their homes so that when someone opens the door, the bells ring. They call these “mindful bells” and their purpose is to remind them to return to the present moment and be mindful.
We humans have become so thought-focused that we spend very little time in the present moment. Sure, our body and actions are always in the present moment, but research tells us that our mind spends less than 5% of our day in the present moment. Our mind is busy remembering the past in order to control the future. It is constantly sending us thoughts based on past and future in hopes to get some control on our lives and hopefully, protect ourselves.
This seems logical, but in truth, it is not. For most of us, the busy “monkey mind” with its incessant chatter, is actually robbing us of our lives. When we focus our attention on our thoughts of past and future we are not perceiving the present moment, life in the moment. That is why Thoreau wrote, “When you go out into nature, leave your busy mind at home.” He was keenly aware of what it means to be in the mindful, present moment when out in the woods.
Why is mindfulness (awareness of the present moment) so important. It is because our natural guiding system can only come through in the present moment and if our mind has us looking elsewhere, we find ourselves floating around in a stormy sea with no rudder. This is because the busy mind is looking for guidance in the wrong place.
Unfortunately, our natural guiding system comes to us with a whisper, a feeling, a felt sense or heartfelt thought. The busy mind, on the other hand, is like a marching band, blaring at high levels, making it impossible for the gentle guidance to be perceived.
Thoughts, like everything else in our lives, are made of energy and for us to have thoughts and focus on them requires energy from us. The busy, monkey-mind, like an insidious disease, is slowly exhausting our energy stores and in time we feel depleted. We all know how emotional situations are more energy depleting than physical situations. Many of us spend our days working in stressful jobs with little physical activity, but when we return to our homes after a busy day, we are depleted. We try to wind down at home, but the busy mind is still churning, thinking about the day, what went wrong and what went right and then shifting to what might happen tomorrow. Just thinking about all the thinking is exhausting.
We have become so removed from our natural state of mind and its guiding system that it is almost impossible to stop it. Even those of us who try, make the attempt a mental stimulus, which in itself adds to the problem. How many of you have tried to meditate and in time, given up because of your frustration. The busy mind is based on achievement and is evaluating the situation when you try to meditate, constantly sending you thoughts that this is not working and you are not seeing any results. The thoughts evoke emotions of frustrations that lead to more thoughts and you give up and go about your busy day.
How do we break this cycle as it is critical that we do if we are to have a peaceful, joyful life experience? We have to understand what is happening and make a lifestyle change. This in itself might seem difficult. Another chore piled on top of the many chores that you have. But, look at your life and define your lifestyle. If it is peaceful and joyful, stay the course and feel grateful that it is. If it is not, you do need a lifestyle change.
There are many ways to do mindful practice; meditation, yoga, Tai chi, Qi Gong and others. These are all very beneficial and I encourage you to participate. But, we need to have “mindful bells” in our lives that simply remind us to stop, focus on the present moment by watching our breathing and re-center ourselves. This may take less than a minute but the more that we do this, the easier it gets and in no time we are doing it without even knowing it. This is when your life will change.
What better mindful bells than our beloved pets. Instead of bells ringing, how about every time that you see your pet or think of your pet, you remind yourself to stop and be mindful. But, let’s take it one step further. We want to not only be mindful, but we want to be mindful and have a heartfelt experience as well. Having a heartfelt experience brings love into the present moment. You will actually be re-introducing your Self to yourself. A mindful experience with love expressing itself as love to love.
Here is the best way to do this. Each morning after you do your immediate needs (bathroom, etc). Take five minutes to have quiet time with your beloved pet. In the early morning, the mind is at its slowest activity level of the day. This is when the inner, loving source, can be detected. Sit down with your pet and look into its eyes, stroke its head and let your feelings of gratitude come forth. Be grateful that your pet is in your life, always there for you, loving you unconditionally. You will connect with your pet at a deep level of awareness and you will feel that connection in your heart area. This is a heartfelt response and in that moment, your source energy of love is coming to the surface of your awareness.
If you commit to doing this every day as well as the mindful practice of stopping and being present whenever you see or think about your pet, you will also elicit the heartfelt response and loving self will come into your awareness. This is the energy that created the universe, you and your life. Its presence will change your life into the joyful, peaceful expression that it was meant to be.