BEING MINDFUL

Being Mindful: Savoring Moments through the Holidays

Roslyn Aging Gracefully, Lifestyle Holidays, Mindfulness

Do you know what the common regret most people have when nearing death? A palliative nurse says, “it is not having lived their own life, but having lived the one that others wanted them to live; in having unfulfilled dreams due to choices made or not made.”

Could Being Mindful be the Key?

If I’m honest with myself, I know I’m not mindful all the time, and I don’t think I am alone in this. Is it our natural state to be mindful? We all have tasks, habits, and patterns in our lives which serve us well. We don’t really need to think about how to do any of these things, and that’s the problem. We are told there are many benefits to developing a practice of being mindful, but what does it mean and how do we develop it?

Mindfulness practices, as we know them today, are rooted in ancient Buddhist meditation. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of modern day mindfulness, “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.” 

We can develop mindfulness skills through meditation, yoga, painting, hiking, knitting, washing the dishes, noticing our bodies, and our breathing — these are all good starting points. When I’m beading, I often become very aware of the texture of a gemstone and its origin deep beneath the earth’s surface millions of years ago. That doesn’t mean that you can’t also find this peace when working with man-made creations. As I create jewelry with beads, the beauty of working with artisan blown glass takes my breath away.

These moments of awareness are the very first step to being mindful. Learning to stretch those moments out, to slow down and savor what you’re doing, is the hardest part. I know there’s no rush, and this practice could be a really good thing. Or, at least, it definitely would be for me.

I realized over time that I didn’t pay much attention to being mindful. Turning inward and being reflective were not familiar experiences until I came upon a transformative program which I’ve been participating in over many years. I learned to be aware, to stop, think and act, beyond my automatic existing views and not to behave as though my perceptions were the truth. I’ve been able to bring this awareness into my personal, business and professional lives, as well as into many relationships.

There are many paths that can lead us toward a reflective practice. Sometimes we’ll seek it out because of significant events in our lives, such as menopause, job loss, divorce, an empty nest, a move or a disability. Being mindful can help us to look at each of these life-impacting experiences as an opportunity for a journey, one that could lead us to realign ourselves so we no longer have to regret not living true to our heart’s desires

Practice of Mindfulness

One of the more difficult tasks to being mindful is to ‘Be Present’. As a chronic multi-tasker, my greatest challenge is to be in the ‘moment’. My mental task list is always present and I can’t even just listen to music or watch a TV show — I always have paper and pen or my iPhone at hand. Taking notes dominates my life!

So, how can we adopt a new perspective in order to add this awareness to our daily lives? Remember what it was like when you first moved to a new area? You paid attention to every sight, sound, and smell. And then it all became familiar and you stopped paying attention. Today, we often arrive at our destination without having been present for the entire drive. Taking a new route by taking yourself, out of your comfort zone, can kickstart those feelings and force us into the present.

Being mindful of the immediate world around you is a good place to start and a step in the right direction.

Mindfulness Quote

It has been proven that mindfulness improves well-being. Our attitude toward our life determines the level of satisfaction with it. If it’s whizzing by, we cannot enjoy the daily pleasures as they occur. It also helps to engage more fully in the day-to-day activities; it expands our capacity to deal with adversities. Many people who practice mindfulness find they are less likely to worry about the future or have regrets about the past.

Being Mindful – How I Intend to Take it Forward

We are already in what always seems to be the busiest months of the year. November and December are magical months filled with family, friends and a childlike joy that bring back memories. The older we get, the more memories we have collected and the more we forget!

Can being mindful help hold onto our memories? I believe so. I want to remember these special times with family. I often think I do, but if you ask me details about last Thanksgiving, I might not be able to recall. I know I wasn’t being fully present to the day. I can remember some of it, small things; the joy of being surrounded by loved ones, the delicious smells wafting from my daughter-in-law’s kitchen, and the taste of a hint of lemon in the cranberries. Wouldn’t it be great to recollect more?

It is a really busy season for us and this year my intention on Thanksgiving is to focus on the present moment. When I drift onto autopilot, as my mind thinks about my to-do list for Friday, I intend to pull myself back to the present. I want to be able to describe my day, my feelings, surroundings and make a memory to stay with me as I grow older gracefully.

I don’t know about you, but by mid-January, I often feel that I need to decompress. So, this year, I am going to continue our year of mindfulness, and whilst walking through the remainder of November and December, I will try to:

  • Be aware of the moment, enjoy it and not rush into tomorrow.
  • Spend time being with those I love rather than fussing around.
  • Connect with and cherish the connections, new and old, that come my way during this Holiday season.
  • Give thanks for all that I have, for the people I know and have known, and for my continued place on this earth.

It seems like a tall order, because November and December are so busy, and we are by no means perfect. So, I’ll keep these watchwords for mindfulness close by throughout the months to remind myself to stop, breathe, and enjoy. Staying true to one’s values allows us to live authentically and will reduce the chance of having that common regret. The opportunity is now; it’s time to tune into yourself and do an internal check of where you are. 

As I write this blog in the series Aging Gracefully, and for the week of Thanksgiving, my wish is for each of us to be in love with our own life. Being mindful of the life we have guides our gratitude, not just on one special day of the year, but every day. We have no idea when our last day will arrive, so each day has to be lived “as if”. If we are living a life in sync with our personal goals, values, and passions, it is likely we will truly enjoy our life. I feel so blessed that I am creating my life with no regrets. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We’d love to hear how you approach being mindful.

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Roslyn
I loved going to work each day for 30 years as a professional career counselor. When I retired, I explored my creativity and regard for crafts until I discovered beading. At age 68 I turned my new found passion- jewelry design, into a business. At age 72 I took on learning about social media marketing and developing my computer skills. I am sharing my journey from inception, to frustration, to elation -in the hope of inspiring others that 'it is not too late to start again'. Welcome to my re-invention!

Comments 49

  1. LIke you, I have always had a challenge being present in the moment. With so much “air” in my chart, I am darting forward to the future, then to the past in seemingly nano seconds. Practicing mindfulness is often difficult for some of us who have such active and overly sensitive nervous systems. Mindfulness walking is one way I’ve tried, although it only lasts for a few steps. The idea is to say “right” when you move your right foot forward and then “left” when you move your left foot. It keeps you conscious of being in your body, moving your feet. I’d dare to say that very few people have a true sense of actually “being” in their body. Especially their legs and feet. We are being drawn up to the head, to our mental facilities that seem to dominate our lives. Like you, I do see it as a matter of creating a practice, as with practice, we get better at it. The key is being conscious and making choices to bring ourselves back to the moment as well. Great post. Enjoy your time with family and friends this holiday celebration. Here’s to living and loving our lives.

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      Appreciate your thoughts Beverley Golden. Years ago I tried yoga and could not mentally reach down to my toes and so on. The day I read the draft of this blog to my group of writer friends I chose to be present to our time together, not even the food prep for later. They remarked on how still I was being and I allowed them to take care of themselves. Practice. One tip that helps me is knowing I have time to get things done & it is ok if not everything gets done. Oh & I breathe.

  2. Just what I needed to read today, Roz. You’ve so eloquently stated what so many of us struggle with – enjoying what’s right in front of us. Perfect advice as we enter the holiday season. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  3. I look back at times in my life, mainly when my children were young and I was trying so hard to “achieve” in my job, and I can’t remember much. Physically I was there but I was mentally miles away. I have slowly begun to practice meditation each morning and it is so helpful. I still am challenged with a racing mind and driving fore so I never slow down, but it’s getting better.

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      So appreciate your comment, Kris Vaughan. It does take time and practice and with full lives, racing along seems natural. It’s great that you started meditation and given your awareness of the pace you wish to manage a racing mind- I like that phrase- I have no doubt you will succeed.

  4. I just love this, Roz! It’s been a focus of mine for a while as well, and yep, can be quite challenging 🙂 But your 4 action steps are great ones!
    And I especially love, “my wish is for each of us to be in love with our own life.” Yes!
    Thank you for this!

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  5. Interesting…but I can totally relate… we are all too busy being busy and living life just because, not necessarily for a purpose but just living… not mindfully with a purpose… with intent. Thanks for the reminder!

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      You know Kristen, it seems I write exactly what I need in the moment. Happy when it resonates with others too. I always knew my purpose in life, just was not always present to it. Have a great holiday.

  6. Beautifully stated! “We have no idea when our last day will arrive, so each day has to be lived “as if”. If we are living a life in sync with our personal goals, values, and passions, it is likely we will truly enjoy our life. I feel so blessed that I am creating my life with no regrets.” Thanks for sharing and being an example of what the fullness of re-invention can be like. Very inspiring!

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  7. Not too long ago I came across an article about “mindfulness” and paused and paused and paused. “Being mindful”. The power these two words hold for me. Your words are like a bouquet of flowers. Something I want to stop and look at. And, not continue with my “to do” list. That list will be there tomorrow but now is now. Love you.

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      Dear friend Linda, it is more challenging for project driven people to ‘be mindful’, to ‘be present’. Yes, our lists drive us and we are learning to set them aside.

  8. Great post! This is a great question: Can being mindful help hold onto our memories? I think I too believe it. I always tell my children that they should be present when placing items in their homes and it really does help. They remember where they put things. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. I’m equally guilty of multi-tasking though I have managed to restrict that over the years to combine activities that won’t get compromised because I am doing 2 things at the same time, like watching the news while dusting or setting my desk straight. 🙂

    Taking time out to enjoy our surroundings with all 5 senses does help to improve our mindfulness and keep memories alive. I can still bring up memories of happier times like visiting my grandmother and her potato curry from whiffs of spices if they are in the right proportion. Strange thing to remember but that then brings back other memories of the fun we used to have as children when we visited her.

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      Oh Vatsala Shukla, to have that much fun again as we did when being children. I think about creating moments with my grandchildren to give them lasting memories. And thanks for reminding me that using our 5 senses helps.

  10. Being in the moment and appreciating it is something that does not always seem to come easy when you are caught up in the bustle of daily life, indeed it is something that I really have to work on. It helps to unplug from technology and to leave all my work “in the office”, but it is still sometimes a struggle. Over this particular period, when the focus seems to be upon family and holidays, I am busy setting myself up for the coming year as are many of my fellow entrepreneurs. I will take some time to enjoy family and friends and to relax and let go of the rush. Thank you for this post Roslyn and for reminding me that the present should be enjoyed too.

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      I agree, Ian Campbell.I think it was easier to transition to friends, fun & family when we worked a 9-5. It had an ending and self-employment seems 24/7. Plan your time to relax.

  11. What a wonderful post. Just recently, my husband and I were out to dinner and he said something that really struck me; “Wow, I can tell you’re really listening to me! Usually when we’re talking I can see your mind is racincg ahead to a million other things” So I guess i’ve got some work to do in the “living in the moment” category!

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  12. Hi Roz,
    Really awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing how important it is to be in the “moment” and to learn how to be “mindful” and just enjoy the moments for what they are 🙂 I have an issue as well sometimes, as I always want to get ahead of myself and so I do not enjoy the day to day moments that I should. Thank you for the reminder and for sharing ways that can help develop how to become more “mindful” 🙂

    Great share!!

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      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It does take practice to train ourselves to stay in the moment. I think you will get a lot out of taking on being more mindful.

  13. When I read the first line about “common regret most people have when nearing death? ” I immediately thought of my father… he was one to live his life on his terms and boy, did it tick some people off 🙂 Living in the moment can be hard when there is so much noise out there. Finding peace within yourself and your family can do wonders for your soul. I am grateful to be getting away for the holidays and spending them wih Joe, my son Harrison (we are crossing our fingers he’s not being deployed), my daughter, her hubby and the two grand kids. Oh yes, we can’t forget the 5 dogs 🙂 It will be hectic at their place, but as I’m typing this, I can just picture standing there, in front of the fireplace, grand kids in my lap, Harrison and Joe talking about all the new tv shows, Shandi and her hubby getting things together and you won’t see one cell phone, laptop or tablet in view.

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      Gisele, it sounds like so much fun, sure hectic & noisy filled with love, laughter, children. I suspect you are someone who won’t have regrets, just like your Dad.

  14. If being mindful really can help us hold onto our memories then perhaps men have always been multitasking. And, now that more of us women are in the workplace, maybe you have stumbled onto why it is that most men do NOT retain all those “little things” from the past when many women do… hmmmmm… Thank YOU for a very reflective post Roslyn!

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  15. Beautifully said Roslyn. As an extreme Introvert limiting external noise is a matter of survival for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ve mastered mindfulness. If anything my workaholic nature is constantly bumping up against the need for inner peace. But your message has been a great reminder of the importance of focusing on the moment. Thank you!

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      Welcome to our blog, Marquita Herald and appreciate your comment. Workaholics, being committed or overcommitted will have us bumping up against being still, aware & being mindful.

  16. I loved your descriptions of being more mindful when you work with gems and beads.

    When I’m performing I often think about what other audiences and stages my accordion has seen. My 3 accordions are all from the 1960s. One feels as though it was played often so I picture that it has seen a lot of the world. One of my other accordions acts as if it didn’t get out of its case much until the recent years in its life with me. I love how their sound gets richer as the wood ages.

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  17. Christmas is such a busy time of year, but I always take time to actually sit and enjoy the tree. Turn off all of the other lights, put on some nice Christmas music, and just “be” for a while. Doing this helps keep me sane during the holidays, plus connects me to the reason for the season.

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  18. I love this, Roz. Just remember — there is no try, only do. 😉 I used to verbally express gratitude as a way of being mindful and in the present…until I found something online that I like better. It said, “Cherish *this* moment.” And I discovered that if simply cherished what was going on around me, what I was doing — and being — that it was so much better than engaging my brain (and my mouth!) to name things I saw that I was grateful for. Now, every so often, I stop and think, “Cherish *this* moment” and it feels simply fabulous. Please try it!

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  19. What a great reminder, Roz! Being mindful, staying present… is such a challenge. But it’s one we live with and we should always try to make it better.

    I don’t think anyone will ever master it, but it’s so worth it to work on it every day 🙂

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      Thanks for your comment Delia. You are probably right in that very few will ‘master’ Being Mindful, but we can increase the times we stop, become aware and get present to the moment. It can become a practice & like other practices, to become a habit takes time and repition. Enjoy the holidays.

  20. Living in sync with one’s values and goals: a large but totally rewarding way of being. Thank you, Roz, for your openness and honesty in sharing these concepts with others.

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      Appreciate your comment,Iris Lee. I do believe as I move thru the last stages of my life, I will be more mindful because I am in sync with my values and goals and wish to be present to them.

  21. Thanksgiving was our grandson’s 5th birthday. It was also the first Thanksgiving we were joined by our younger son and his new bride. So many things to remember! Thank you Roslyn, for reminding me to cherish the little moments that could so easily slip away!

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  22. Thanks Roslyn for a great post. There’s lots that resonates, but I think I like this the best – If we are living a life in sync with our personal goals, values, and passions, it is likely we will truly enjoy our life.

    One of the beauties of growing older for some of us is a natural inclination to mindfulness. I think we each arrive to it in our own way. And then it’s a matter of practice.

    One of the most delightful aspects of mindfulness is recognizing my own reactiveness or automatic kind of responses to people or situations. The delightful part is being able to see that it doesn’t serve me well at all. Or anyone elsse for that matter. So I make a conscious choice about how I want to feel. Now that’s true freedom and I’m loving it.

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      Appreciate your comment, Jane Gramlich. This topic could have covered pages & pages. It is possible as we grow older, some slowing down also brings about mindfulness. I too am more present to my automatic way of responding or thinking. The seminar my hubby & I participate in deepens our ability to recognize it and shift to another perspective.

  23. Wow Roz! I feel like this was your best blog post ever! I totally relate to every word in it and I love your analogy of imagining how you act/react to moving some place new. You’ve motivated me to really become more “awake” instead of just going through my days without savoring every single moment. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and would love to get together soon. xoox

  24. Appreciate your comment, Julie Latz. Last year I started doing a monthly series on Aging Gracefully and through my research realized how important it was to savor every day. I also needed a wake-up call which ended up being this blog. So glad it had meaning for you. And yes, we will get together as soon as our season is over.

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