Kaiah ran across the yard after the little fluorescent yellow tennis ball, then leapt into the air catching the ball in her mouth. Triumphantly, she pranced back toward me and dropped the ball at my feet. Kaiah’s tiny face looked up into mine, eyes excitedly pleading with me to throw the ball again. As I watched her repeat this game over and over again, I felt my body, mind, and spirit relax.
My day and week had been challenging, and my body carried the evidence. My muscles were tense, I had a headache, and my mind swirled with concerns for others and the laundry list of tasks needing my attention. As I watched Kaiah completely immersed in the joy of fetching the ball, I envied her. Not a care in the world, totally focused on the joy of the moment. She was demonstrating mindfulness.
There are various definitions of mindfulness, however, simply stated, mindfulness is being present in each moment. Most of us struggle to practice mindfulness. To be in the moment, we cannot plant one foot in the past and one in the future. We need to be here, in the now, in the moment we are living, not rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Mindfulness also means we are aware of our thoughts and feelings, aware of sensations within our bodies, aware of our surroundings without judgment, just acceptance. We must not chastise ourselves for how we feel. Instead, we view our feelings with a gentle awareness that there is no right or wrong way to feel. The Bible calls it being still.
Kaiah was teaching me, totally unaware of the impact of the lesson she was teaching as she fetched ball after ball. Each time she dropped the ball at my feet, she looked up at me and smiled in the way dogs smile. Her whole face radiated the picture of contented happiness. Dogs teach us so much.
Do we need to twist ourselves into pretzels and meditate like a Yogi? No. Practicing mindfulness means we live life with awareness, as if every moment mattered. So often we live in the past, wondering about what might have been, angry with ourselves because we got into situations that caused pain to self or others, reliving moments that cannot be changed. We stress ourselves worrying about the future, about things that may never happen or anticipating events and living for those moments. We are meant to live carefree, in the moment, and joyful.
I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and let the tension leave my body, mind, and spirit. The sun shone warm on my face, and all was right with my world again. Thank you, Kaiah, for the reminder to be in the moment with you…..