I may not have been on a beautiful beach, but a busy car park in Kidderminster provided me with an opportunity for calmness.
Mindfulness can mean different things to every individual who explores it but for me the essence of mindfulness is quietening my busy mind. Before I began mindfulness I believed I simply could not meditate or clear my head, it was just too full of thoughts! But now I have learnt that by focusing on the experience of being in a moment, rather than trying to clear my mind, is profoundly calming.
Last week I was waiting for a lift in Kidderminster, perched on a wall. I was initially frustrated as I would normally be independent and drive myself but due to a back problem (now resolved) I could not drive. I had arrived early so I didn't need to rush so I had 25 minutes on my hands. At first I did what I often do, reached for my phone and checked my emails, then I checked my schedule in my diary, thinking of lists and work to do. Still over 20 minutes to wait. I could feel myself starting to ruminate on the issues of the day, churning over thoughts and feelings.
I decided to put some mindfulness into practice. Firstly I focused on the sounds I could hear, just listening and not judging or hoping to change anything. Simply bringing my attention to the sounds around me. When my mind wandered, as it naturally did, I just bought it back to the area of focus I had chosen. The great thing about mindfulness is there is no self criticism involved as you can not get it wrong. It simply is whatever happens at that moment. I found myself listening to the constant sounds then noticing the intermittent yet regular sounds. I could soon pick up on noises I had not been aware of before.
I next took my focus of attention to my internal experience. Taking time to experience the sensations of my body, not thinking about what they meant but noticing the sensations and no more. My mind did wander away from my chosen focus but without tutting at myself I gathered it up and focused again.
This episode of mindfulness felt like a few minutes but when I checked my watch I realised my lift was actually late and 25 minutes had gone by. I am pretty sure if I had continued with my mind churning and ruminating I would have by now been pretty frustrated with my wait, but I felt calm and content.
There are many aspects to mindfulness but my experience in the Kidderminster car park was a simple exercise in mindfulness. I spent my time simply being within the experience and switched off my doing busy mind. It was a lesson to me in how making plans and ticking boxes is not always the best way to feel on top of your day.