To live fully each day we must pay attention and be mindful of everything. When you live this way, you anchor yourself in the present. This present-moment awareness is often called mindfulness. Derived from Zen Buddhism, it is a form of meditation in which you focus your attention on what you are experiencing from moment to moment. You don’t think about what you are going to do next or what happened yesterday.
“See your life as a series of moments,” suggests Dr. Lawrence Ballon, a psychiatrist who teaches meditation and mindfulness. “Most people have learned techniques to avoid coping with how they feel. They take a pill, overwork, overeat, overdrink-anything to change their state of mind. Picture someone listening to a pianist yet thinking about what happened at the office or whether they put enough money in the parking meter. That person is not fully present.” He then cited an interesting example. “My dog lives in the moment. She’s hungry; she eats. She’s tired; she rests. She’s aware of her own experience. She checks in with herself.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Howard Book practices mindfulness and is acutely aware of his senses. “When I’m outside in the summertime, I can smell the earth and the green grass. In March I notice that the ground smells different. I smell the sweetness of spring coming.”
Driving home from my office I am greeted by huge trees on both sides of my street, their canopy of leaves touching and kissing each other, dappled sunlight dancing among the branches. I see this every day and yet every day it thrills me. It’s that kind of enthusiasm and paying attention that is important in my life.”