“Mindfulness” is a word bandied about the interwebs. It’s sometimes referred to as “being present.” The two concepts owe much of their popularity to a world in which attention often is fragmented, and distractions are plentiful.
Both concepts are important. It’s easy to get so busy that one forgets to stop and take note of the world around them and the people in front of them. I know I’m guilty of that, and I’m a writer and illustrator who’s supposed to pay attention. It’s part of the job description, to borrow from Laurie Frick, a data artist.
I just get caught up in the cycle of doing rather than being. I forget to pause and consider what I’m doing and why. I go from one thing to the next and the next. I forget to be still only to find myself wondering why I feel exhausted and irritable.
I would guess I’m not alone with that problem. Because of that, I offer an exercise that some of my friends shared with me. Any time they get too busy or start to worry or obsess about the wrong things, a friend or loved one looks them in the eye and asks two questions:
- What time is it?
- Where are you?
The answers aren’t an actual time or place; the answers are “right now” and “right here.” Both ground a person in the present. They ask one to take a breath and just be. They suggest that the worries and obsessions flooding the mind perhaps aren’t the best use of time. Perhaps the best use of it is to look at the person who asked the questions and to be present with that person.
Image: Maile and Justin McCarthy (Creative Commons)