“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.” -Ekhart Tolle
I’m not sure what I think of this mindfulness online stuff, so I’m trying it out. I have sat on cushions and in retreat centers with no other purpose than to pay attention to my breath. There is this sense that we have to retreat in order to really pay attention, because this is not what our standard daily life calls for, and certainly not what we usually do online. But more and more, teachers of mindfulness talk about the dire need to bring our awareness to the most mundane moments of our daily lives, as well as into the quotidian quagmires that assault our senses. “Mindfulness meditation” says David Richo “is not a religious event or a form of prayer. It is an exploration of how the mind works and how it can be stilled so as to reveal and inner spaciousness in which wisdom and compassion arise with ease”
In this mindfulness online exercise, I’m told that my mouse can function as my digital mala, helping me focus on each one-click meditation. Mala and other beaded strands are used in several contemplative traditions to help a practitioner focus on the object of their practice, rather than on distractions or the fact that practice can be difficult. In this case, the object is my breath; simply noticing it as it enters and exits my body. Breath in, breath out, click; I’ve added another bead to my strand. Not click to “buy now” or read the latest scandal. Here, I click, just because I am, and can notice the small revolution of a breath, causing my chest to rise then relax. After a minute, I start to feel better, more grounded, more present. The mindful click effect? Perhaps…
It is interesting that the very tools that offer us constant distractions also offer possibilities for focused, real-time meditation tracking and global connection. Do you think you’re the only one counting your breath right now? Guess again. Do you think no one else cares about their breath, or feeling more present, or less stressed out? Most of us desire greater calm and peace in our lives. When I listen to friends and family, living different lives all over the globe, the common thread is that most people feel pretty caught up, and wish they could turn the buzz of their lives down just a notch or two. One of the benefits of engaging in mobile mindfulness techniques, especially in the midst of a busy day, is that you get a real time sense that there are others practicing with you, devoting a minute to the same desire for stress relief, better health, and more positive connections.
Mindfulness is the time spent painting and caring for our proverbial boats so that can sail over the rough patches without taking on too much water and sinking. Yes…there will always be rough patches. But relax, you don’t need to go climb a mountain or spend a year in a cave. Just take a minute right now to breath, and let your clicking signify “I am here”, and then continue on with your busy day.
Photo: Maria Flick-Bujis (Stock Exchange)