Developing mindful reverence is to become actively engaged with the focus of one's attention, be it a person, place or phase, with an abiding appreciation and understanding that nothing is permanent; it's a way to imprint mind, body and spirit with gratitude and acknowledgment for what exists in the moment and may never exist again.
Having had some significant losses this year made me realize that life doesn't go on indefinitely. I've taken for granted that there is a long string of years ahead and if I'm not as present as I could/should be, there will still be plenty of time to make up. Being so caught up in the minutiae of everyday existence, I never truly considered that once those I cherish are gone, they will not return.
I want to avoid future regrets by learning to be more centered in the present (mindful) with appreciation for what life is offering at any given moment (reverence). However, changing ingrained thought patterns and acquiring new mental attitudes is challenging.
Having spent many years helping people change through the power of the subconscious mind, I know that any consistent practice contributes to incremental change. To that end, the easy-to-do daily practices outlined below are very effective techniques for developing more mindful reverence.
Mindfulness is a deliberate awareness of the present moment, acknowledging and accepting bodily sensations, thoughts and feeling, without judgment or reaction. With practice, we learn detachment and transcend being at the mercy of our habitual thought patterns.
Reverence is the action or condition of regarding someone or something with deep respect or sacredness. According to Gary Zukav, author of Seat of the Soul, reverence is the experience "of accepting that all Life is, in and of itself, of value."
This attitude brings to mind the Sanskrit phrase, Namaste, a reverential salutation that means "I honor the divinity within you."
For me, mindful reverence, is Namaste-in-action: the antithesis of taking for granted.
By setting an intention and committing to focused practice it is possible to form new life, affirming habits.
Here are three daily habits that take only moments to do, but quickly cultivate mindful reverence:
1. The Reflective Pause
At least once a day, stop what you are doing "mindlessly" and pause to reflect on something absolutely wonderful in your life. It could be the way the sky looked on your drive to work or the hug your daughter gave you before bed. Maybe it's a pleasant memory or a vision of something you deeply desire. I do it often when I am out walking the dogs so that I can fully appreciate the fresh air or the current wonder of weather. It is only by balancing our busy-ness with being-ness -even in the briefest of moments, that we can live in harmony between mind body, and spirit.
2. Mindful Meal or Snack
Make at least one meal or snack fully mindful each day - It is so easy to go unconscious when we participate in the repetitive behaviors that we do on a daily basis. Eating is something that we have learned do while multi-tasking, which is never good for digestive OR mental health. Take one meal or snack and be as fully present as you can be, chewing well, savoring each bite, and fully involving your 5 senses in the experience. Even learning to appreciate one meal per day "with exquisite attention" as Joan Borysenko once described her meditation on a small piece of chocolate cake, will awaken more awareness and appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.
3. Focused Breathing
Dr. Andrew Weil, the highly-respected mind/body medicine expert, asserts that the one single thing we can do to dramatically improve our health and well-being is to improve our breathing. Breath is the link between the mind and the body and also provides the means to connect with our "vital, non-physical essence." The act of deep breathing oxygenates your brain and sets the tone for a much calmer perspective, no matter what may be going on externally.
This life-changing technique, called 20 Breaths, requires less than five minutes. After committing to this for one year, I easily and naturally segued into a daily meditation practice. Twenty breaths can be done in virtually any position but I find it most effective sitting with the spine straight.
First five breaths -- in through the nose -- out through the mouth. Count mentally on the exhalation to keep track. From six to 20 go back to breathing just in and out through nose. Visualize yourself breathing in peace and positivity; breathing out attachments and annoyances. When you reach 20 just imagine yourself gently sinking down from head/mind to your heart center and spend a few moments in peaceful reverie before opening your eyes.