Having previously participated in a Vipassana course, I was elevated to the status of veteran the second time round. Whilst this meant I was familiar with some of the techniques and transcendental thoughts and feelings surrounding the practise of Vipassana; being denied the afternoon snack of fruit seemed a high price to pay.
In replacing this food with a hot cup of lemon water, I learned the true meaning of mindfulness and built upon this understanding to incorporate it in my day.
How many times a day do you flick the kettle on? For many of us, making a cup of tea is so commonplace, we can almost do it absentmindedly. Imagine having deprived yourself of any liquids, aside from water. Having eaten a simple meal very early in the morning and worked silently for a day since then.
Upon drinking this water, flavoured with a thin slice of lemon, my senses were awoken. Never before had a lemon seemed so bright. Speaking of spring flowers and sunshine, its mottled yellow skin awoke my eyes and yet transported my mind. In what was almost an olfactory hallucination, I could smell the groves of lemon and salty air of Sicily, in just one tiny sliver. Its taste, whilst delicate, was tart, vivid and deliciously opulent following the mundane sipping of water.
In a nutshell that’s mindfulness. We could go on to imagine the sound it made washing down a parched throat; the feel of cool water trickling to the back of the throat; nurturing and revitalising. Taking the time to listen, to feel its effect on the senses is practising mindfulness: appreciating simple experiences.
Many readers may feel that this takes too long. In this modern day, when time is a commodity and no-one feels they have enough, how can we find time to be mindful and what are the benefits?
Many people indulge in this act of mindfulness without realising they do it. Walking and listening to music encourages us to be visually more perceptive.
Wearing headphones blocks out most external sources of noise, so we need to use our eyes to navigate more efficiently. If walking in a tranquil environment, we may focus more on what we can hear around us. Our own breaths as they pass in and out of the nose and mouth. This centres us and allows us a clear mind, encouraging productivity.
Similar to the lemon tea experience recorded above, mindful eating and drinking encourage us to really think about what we are putting into our body. This reduces unnecessary eating, resulting in a healthy feeling body.
When your mind has quieted enough, you can begin to focus on the breaths as they come into and go out of the body. Thinking about this marvellous set of apparatus we have for breathing; the miracle of our existence develops being mindful of others, and the environment around us.
If you don’t feel you have time for mindfulness, then make it. You will thank yourself for it.
Written by Laura barnes
Photography by Dominic Eve