Home Articles Channels Daily Retreat Inspiration Classroom Boutique Community Singles Resources Contact

SoulfulLiving.com :: Personal Growth, Spiritual Growth, Self Help and Self Improvement

Your #1 Online Resource for Personal and Spiritual Growth Since 2000.
Mandala and Chakra Pendants
New Age Gifts and Products, Buddhist and Tibetan Jewelry, Meditation and Yoga Supplies
Mandala Art Prints



Our Sponsors:

The Mandala Collection :: Buddhist and Conscious Living Gifts
Inspirational Gifts

Energy Muse Jewelry
Energy Muse Jewelry

Body of Grace
Eco-Friendly Gifts

Yoga Download
Yoga Download

The Mandala Collection
Give a Gift with Soul

Colleen DeatsmanPaul Bowersox

Mindfulness: Wake up and Smell the Coffee!
By Colleen Deatsman and Paul Bowersox

“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness is bare awareness in the present moment. In the singular silence of the present moment there is no past or future. A still mind, without the whirl of churning thoughts, anchors the heart in the present and opens the path to clear vision. Clear vision facilitates self-knowledge, relaxation, inner peace, joy, and calmness and is the foundation for the development of a liberating wisdom that Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh refers to as the “Great Awakening”. In this great awakening, we become aware of our true self, in all of our beauty and in all of our limitations. We learn who we are inside of our kind-heartedness, compassion, greed, pride and judgments. We learn about our motivations for what we think and how we act, and the inner landscape of our psyche. In this mindfulness, we become aware of our powerful strengths and the patterns and training that limit us. As we get to know ourselves in our true nature, we become aware of the details and the true nature of our surroundings, our families, our work, our hobbies, our world. In this awareness, there is freedom from masks, veils, and illusions. We can find a peaceful centeredness in this freedom. In this quiet state of being, we are open to receive and listen. Once honed, mindfulness is an attitude and an awareness that permeates every aspect or our lives.

Seeing in the Dark

The times we live in and the days to come require that we pay attention to what is going on. It might not seem like it, but paying attention is a radical and subversive act. It always has been, and is even more so now. Paying attention, whether to your internal or external world, strips away layers of illusion and brings you into the “real” just as it positions you in the present moment. Why radical and subversive? In a very real sense, we are conditioned in our culture to not pay attention. We are told what to think, how we should act or dress, and what we should consider to be important. We are even told what to fear and what to love. We are told everything we need to know. We are also told everything designed to influence and manipulate us. Justifications for wars or civil liberties violations, contrite apologies from politicians or religious leaders caught in disgrace, and national security alert levels are all reported to us to achieve a tone, a feeling in society which directs our attention to the point where we are told to look, rather than where we might look if left to our own devices. Paying close attention allows us to observe what is really going on. It eliminates editorial slant, spin, and media influence. In essence, it reveals the real and dismisses the illusion. Paying attention is an undeniably subversive act to those who would shape public opinion, those who would tell us what is to be believed to be true. It is also a subversive act to your own ego when that observation is cast inward to determine what is truly real and what you merely think is real. Paying attention is a fundamental skill that must be cultivated. The key unleashing the power that you alone can wield begins with paying attention; to the world around you; to events; and to the nature of the Self.

Nothing in our society prepares people to be able to be mindful effectively. We have been taught to look for easy, quick fixes rather than to savor the victory of a well-honed discipline. As simple as it is to institute an attitude of mindfulness, it is amazingly difficult to nourish and sustain it. We often become too busy, distracted, tired, bored, or feel we aren’t accomplishing anything. People also are surprised to find that mindfulness brings them face to face with themselves. The thoughts that they attempt to shut out through a constant barrage of activities, television, and background noise, are suddenly in their face. This rush of thoughts is often a convenient distraction that deters us from being a mindful person. If we can just sit quietly through these initial moments of “monkey mind”, we will witness a beautiful soul emerge from behind the chatter.

Mindfulness is a useful tool for monitoring your status, a critical step in achieving and maintaining health. Begin by checking in regularly with yourself to see how you are feeling. Take a deep breath and quiet yourself. Pay attention to everything going on around you, noticing whatever details jump out at you. Observe everything going on within you, noticing every aspect of yourself, your mind, emotions, soul, and body.  Inhale another deep breath and take a few more moments to look even further. Be observant and notice all the sensations that you can feel. Notice if anything hurts, aches, is stiff, blocked or numb. Notice what feels neutral and okay. Notice what feels wonderful and healthy. Take a mental inventory. And then go deeper. Become aware of any other sensations that you might have missed. Notice the minutiae as detailed as you can go. If you have discovered any imbalances, go deeper into your body and psyche to learn the message of these imbalances. Ask yourself why the imbalance is present, and then sit quietly and allow the answer to bubble forth from your inner wisdom. Be patient, it sometimes takes awhile, maybe even days for the answer to register in consciousness. Remain aware of the symptom and allow the knowledge to cook within you. Soon you will know what it is telling you.

Inner Power

Mindfulness requires focus. It doesn’t happen any other way. You must train yourself to pay attention, to be observant, and to notice everything, inside and out. You need to make bare awareness a priority until it becomes a routine habit. Consciously pinpoint various times during the day that you will stop and notice what you are feeling, thinking, doing, seeing, and experiencing. You may or may not have to stop what you are doing, but you will probably have to make a point to remind yourself to do this. Hanging notes in various places where you go throughout the day acts as a helpful reminder. When you look in the mirror, go to the laundry room, or jump into the car, wherever, whenever you see a note, take a few minutes to look around and check in.

For some people, the natural ability to connect in mindfulness may have become lost or hidden through the process of indoctrination used in our culture to produce educated, responsible citizens that generate some kind of work or product. We were told that “daydreaming” or seeing our invisible friend was wrong, so many people shut down these gifts. In fact, daydreaming, properly cultivated, allows us to see potential in the present moment that might otherwise elude us, just as broadening our spectrum of observation allows us to see beings and energies that normally elude the casual observer. Because you already have the natural ability to connect, it isn’t hard to retrain yourself to become receptive to these subtler observations. You need only cultivate, activate and enhance your natural skills. For some it helps to unplug from of the machine of the everyday world, and get out into nature. Being in nature, and the contemplation of nature, provides a much needed shift in perspective. Nature wears no mask. It is primal and direct. There are no dichotomies in nature, no good/bad, right/wrong, happy/sad, foolish/wise. There is only the soul of nature, shining pure and clear across an enormous spectrum of which we normally observe only the smallest fraction. By placing ourselves in that environment we can step aside from our programming and simply be. Faced with the masklessness of nature, our own mask falls away, helping us to become awake and alert. Bringing this awake and alert self back into our everyday world helps us notice and experience things we usually take for granted or hadn’t even noticed before.

Relaxation and the conscious silencing of mind chatter are also typical avenues for opening to perception. Mind chatter and the content of our habitual thoughts limit our perception and hold our idiosyncratic version of reality in place. When first beginning to awaken your mindfulness abilities, you will experience the most success when you are relaxed and quiet physically, mentally and emotionally. This is achieved through the following five-step process that cultivates a state of mindful bare awareness; 1) intention, your desire to become calm and quiet, 2) focus, mindfully directing your attention and placing your thoughts on relaxing, 3) releasing, stopping mind chatter and everyday worldly thoughts, 4) allowing, availing yourself to be fully present in the experience and being receptive to all of the feelings, sensations and insights that come to you during this time, and 5) acceptance, performing all steps without judgment or analytical censoring.

Energy for Life

In this state of mindful, bare awareness you can access one of the most potent faculties you have for perceiving - your felt sense. Your felt sense is the combination of all of the feelings, sensations and realizations that you experience at any given time from your multiple senses. To become conscious of your felt sense, notice what you feel everywhere in your physical body, paying particular attention to the center of your torso.  Notice everything that you are thinking, then everything that you are feeling, then notice what you feel energetically inside and around your physical body, then what you feel intuitively, and then notice everything in your whole being all at once. You don’t have to be aware of every tiny nuance going on within you to experience your felt sense. In fact, this would be quite impossible at this stage. Rather, to become conscious of your felt sense, just be aware and notice the overall feelings, sensations and realizations of all of the individual senses working collectively within you.

To illustrate, here is a brief example of an exercise you can use to hone your mindfulness skills: I chose to focus on a freshly bloomed dandelion. I relax, use the five-step process and sink into my second attention. I notice that the golden yellow vibrates in my solar plexus and feels warm like the sun. I feel that the dandelion is happy to be blooming and soaking in the sun. A gentle breeze blows and she dances on her milky stem. I recall the bitterness of child-hood taste-testing and remember the yellow pollen being rubbed onto my chin and nose. I pay attention to all of these sensations of my felt sense and allow them to resonate in my awareness. I draw in the energy of the dandelion and feel that I too am happy to be blooming and soaking in the warm sun.

Perhaps this exercise will help you begin to experience your felt sense. Choose an object that you would like to use as a focal point. Set your intention to relax. Use the five-step process and notice the messages you receive from your felt sense. Release your mind chatter and allow your mind and emotions to become quiet. Take in a deep breath and relax your body. Drop down out of your thinking mind into your body by surrendering your thoughts and sending your attention into your body, heart and soul. Some refer to this as sinking into the second attention. A simple physical movement to help you accomplish this is to reach up and put your hands on your head. Gather the energy from in and around your head and sink it down into your body and energy field by moving your hands down the front of your body and bringing them to rest on your heart, then your solar plexus just under your rib cage, and then on your belly. Notice what you feel. Allow yourself to relax into your body.

Once you have become relaxed, mentally focus your attention on the object you have chosen. Intentionally open up all of your senses and allow yourself to see all of its characteristics and aspects and feel its energy or vibe. It may help to soften your eyes. Feel with your felt sense - don’t just think with your head. Notice what you are experiencing. Notice all of your sensations. Take your time. When you can sense the object, receive this energy by allowing it to flow into you and through you. Take in a deep breath and open your body, mind, and personal energy field. Consciously draw in the energy without judgment or conditions, accepting everything that you notice and feel. Do this for as long as you have time. When you are finished don’t shut back down. Try to stay open for as long as you can and remain aware of the different sensations you are having. This will help you be more aware in your everyday life.

Felt Sense is one of a trio of practices designed to free the mind. It represents an expansion of a constricted awareness. The other two components -- still point and honesty -- represent ways we unclutter our busy and crowded minds, freeing ourselves of societal conditioning and our own self-induced illusions. Emptiness is the essence of still point. By centering ourselves in the unvarying quiet of a blank slate mind, we empty ourselves out of all of our pre-established points of view. Meditation, especially Zazen, is an example of this kind of discipline designed to empty out the mind’s clutter. Unflinching honesty works to clear away the distractions of fantasy and subterfuge that sometimes control our lives. By eliminating those places where we lie to ourselves and others, vast areas and energies within our mind become available for use in observation of the world around us. By not having to keep track of our personal stories, mythologies and “little white lies”, we can attend to the larger and more interesting task of living from our soul self and seeing beyond the ends of our noses.

As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said, “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

Free your mind and you will become present and aware of the world.

© Copyright 2009 Colleen Deatsman and Paul Bowersox Adapted from Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age (Red Wheel Weiser 2009) and Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy and Self-Healing (Llewellyn 2005). All Rights Reserved.

Lionel Fisher
Colleen Deatsman
  is the Co-Author of Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age (Red Wheel Weiser 2009), Author of Energy for Life: Connect with the Source (Llewellyn 2006), Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy and Self-Healing (Llewellyn 2005), and numerous on-line and print magazine articles. She holds a Masters Degree and is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker, Shamanic Practitioner, Energy Movement Healer, Reiki Master, Certified Hypnotherapist, and  Certified Alternative Healing Consultant at Circle of Life Counseling and Healing Services in Mason, Michigan. Colleen is also an expert by personal experience. She has healed herself from chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome (CFIDS), fibromyalgia, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism and asthma. You can email Colleen at cdeats3@gmail.com.

Paul Bowersox is the Co-Author of Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age (Red Wheel Weiser 2009).  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering, is a Shamanic Practitioner and Teacher, Reiki Practitioner, Writing Coach, Editor and Contributing Writer for a number of on-line sources, publications and authors including authors Colleen Deatsman (Red Wheel Weiser and Llewellyn) and Mark Stavish (Red Wheel Weiser and Llewellyn). You can email Pail at pbowersox@gmail.com.



Daily Soul Retreat at SoulfulLiving.com
Soul Retreat Goodies!

Support SoulfulLiving.com
Show Us Your Love ♥


Energy Muse Jewelry
Energy Muse Jewelry

Wild Divine Meditation Software featuring Deepak Chopra
Meditation Software

Energy Muse - Sacred Yoga Jewelry

Copyright © 1999-2014 Soulful Living®.

Soulful Website Design by The Creative Soul®.