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Debra Lynn Dadd

Everyday Mindfulness
by Debra Dadd Redalia

Mindfulness is a Buddhist term for a practice found in many spiritual traditions. It is the process of observing that which is around you, eventually coming to be aware that one's essential spiritual nature is that which is doing the observing.

How often do you go through life not being aware of much that is happening? As I sit here at my computer writing, I am focused on the words appearing on the screen as I type them, but at the same time, if I expand my awareness, I am also aware of the quiet sound of the ceiling fan overhead, the sensation of the breeze on my bare arm, the ticking of the clock, the fragrance of the rose on my desk, the feel of the floor beneath my feet, the taste of water as I take a sip, the darkness outside my window at this early morning hour. All these things were happening, but until I chose to become "mindful" of them, I wasn't aware of them, or experiencing them.

I first experienced this when I was six years old. I was instructed to observe my body.  It was fairly easy for me to see that "I" was observing my body, which was something separate from the "me" that was observing it. Then I was instructed to observe a thought. Oh, well, yes, I could observe thoughts in my mind. I could think some words or look at a picture in my mind, and the words and pictures weren't "me" either. And then I was asked, "What is doing the observing?" Of course, "I" was doing the observing, but "I" was neither body nor my mind..."I" was a spiritual being.

We live in a world where the common viewpoint is that we humans are bodies, and we "look within" to find our minds and our spirits.

As an aware spiritual being, I experience myself at the center of my universe. There is "me," a spirit, and everything in the physical world is "my environment." I look "out" to my mind and body and the surrounding environment.

Mindfulness is easy to practice. You don't need any special place or equipment or skill. You can do it sitting or standing or lying down or even walking or swimming or running. Because it is simply you--the spiritual being that is you--being aware of what you are thinking, feeling, doing and what is going on around you. And the more you are intentionally aware, the more aware you become.

When I lived in California, I lived near an organic farm run by a group of Zen Buddhists. They also had a Sunday morning lecture, after which they served a simple vegetarian meal, including food from their farm. Anyone could go there and volunteer to work in the fields or the kitchen. The whole idea of being there was to be mindful of everything you were doing, to keep your attention on the task at hand and to not let your mind wander off...for you, the spiritual being, to guide your mind and hands as you worked.

It's a whole different experience to actually do what you are doing while you are doing it, and nothing else. To be completely present in a moment, not thinking of the past or wondering about the future, but just being there, doing something, with all your attention...it's an amazing thing.

One of the things I love about my husband is that he can be fully present with me when he is with me. His attention is on me, listening, observing, touching, and being with me. He's not somewhere else while his body is with me, he is with me. And I am with him. It's a very different experience than being with someone while they have their attention on something--or someone--else.

Being mindful can have many benefits. It certainly would be safer to drive a car, for example, if you were mindful of all the traffic, street lights, and weather conditions around you. It would be easier to choose healthy foods if you were mindful of how your body felt--both good and bad--when you ate specific foods. Relationships improve when you become mindful of the wants and needs and thoughts and feelings of people around you. Mindfulness is a very practical thing.

It's easy to start being more mindful. As you are sitting reading, right now, just observe the moment. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? How does your body feel in general? How do specific parts of your body feel--fingers, toes, nose, eyes, stomach? How is your body's breathing? How is your body's heartbeat? What is the temperature of the room? What is the degree of light? What do you see around you? What do you smell? What do you hear? What are you touching right now? How does it feel? Is there movement in the air, or is it still?

Ultimately, what we know of ourselves and others and of the world all comes from our ability as spiritual beings to observe and be aware. Mindfulness is this ability in action.

© Copyright Debra Lynn Dadd. All Rights Reserved. 

Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd

Debra Lynn Dadd
Debra Dadd Redalia has studied various religions and spiritual traditions for nearly fifty years. She has been a leading consumer advocate in the field of health and the environment since the early 1980s. She was the first to comprehensively write about toxic chemicals in common household products in language meant for consumers, which created a demand for the many nontoxic products we find on the market today.

Beginning with her first self-published book in 1980, Debra's various books have been continuously in print for twenty-five years. Her book Home Safe Home is the definitive guide to toxic exposures in the home and safe solutions. She also publishes Debra's List--a free online directory of 100s of links to 1000s of products with health and environmental benefits--and three free online newsletters: Health, Home, and Habitat, a weekly recipe using natural sweeteners, and Words of Wisdom--a daily quotation on nature or spirit. She has been a regular contributor to Natural Home & Garden magazine since it's first issue.

Hailed "The Queen of Green" by the New York Times, Debra has appeared on many radio and television shows including Geraldo and the Today show. She was featured on the cover of East West Journal (now Natural Health magazine) and Yoga Journal.




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