Sophie S

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I took a class on mindfulness in high school. I learned of its importance and meaning. To be mindful is to be present in the moment and aware of the world around. Every day we are distracted with thoughts of the past and future – why did I behave this way (past regret), and what will happen tomorrow (future anticipation). We don’t spend enough time living in the present – reality. If there is a pedestrian crossing the street while you are driving, that is real. If your phone suddenly buzzes and your mind tells you that it’s that college acceptance email you’re expecting, or reply from a friend, you just might be wrong. Regardless, that knowledge can wait and the pedestrian you risk hitting by diverting your attention cannot. When we are mindful, we don’t care what it is until in a safe place to check, because right now the present consists of getting from one place to another safely. Nothing else matters. Our minds tell stories and make assumptions, but we can control how much power we let our minds have. It is within our capabilities. I think that if mindfulness, spirituality, and yoga classes and workshops could be promoted and advocated for more, people will learn the importance of the present moment and complete uselessness of thoughts of yesterday and worries for tomorrow. It is possible to learn from the past without dwelling on it, plan for tomorrow without stressing over it. I just spent five months living on an organic farm in Israel in a slow paced environment and practiced living in the present moment. I found that when totally engulfed in the now, I was alert to my full potential and joyful, as I took in the life around and recognized my own existence through the rhythm of my breath. There were no past regrets or future worries to cloud my head, which create fear in our relationships and pursuits. I was filled with nothing but love, and therefore the world loved me back. Now I ask myself – how can I maintain this mindfulness back in America, in the fast-paced modern world of progress? How can we be both successful and present? It is a simple matter of learning how – why certain thoughts aren’t important and how they distract. There is also an appeal to mindfulness in that it allows you to experience more joy and appreciate life. Many people are afraid to let go of the past and future because their minds depend on them for survival. However, we are not our minds, and when we understand this, we can make decisions more clearly and reach our full potential. When I think of the streets, I picture honking cars. The reason that many people honk is that they are wanting someone to move faster or get out of the way so that they can get to a destination faster. This honker is not present in the moment – he is thinking about his destination and how he needs to arrive there as quickly as possible. This is a distraction from the present. Of course, people want to arrive on time. But it is better to be late and be safe rather than make aggressive and potentially dangerous moves in the present that arise from unhappiness with a current situation. I saw a sign once that says, “You’re not stuck in traffic. You are traffic,” and I think that the whole world needs to hear it. What’s the rush? Let’s be both safe and joyful, as the two come hand-in-hand through practicing mindfulness.