In a yoga class, being fully aware of the present moment, i.e. feeling and observing what is happening in the moment without judgment, is often (but not often enough) automatic. It frequently happens when we adjust our position: the stretching of a muscle, the contraction of another, the breath momentarily found in the body. And then we lose it: we analyze our position, we wonder if we are doing it right, we remember that we should buy stamps after class ... these fleeting thoughts go unrecognized and are forgotten almost instantly.
Life goes by quickly. We operate on automatic pilot, going from A to Z without realizing. More often we find ourselves not in the now, in the reality of what surrounded us and we will feel, but either in the past - we remember events, we review the conversations that we had or didn't have, the actions taken or missed - or in the future - we plan our holidays or tasks to do, we think of the conversations that we should have and what we should do, we worry about a future unknown.
Taking time to be fully present, brings us back to ourselves and to the reality of the moment. Mindfulness means being attentive in a particular way, on purpose and without judgement. We can practice mindfulness in meditation and at yoga, or in our day to day life, while eating, exercising, walking or while in conversation with another.
Being mindful means trying to:
Pay attention to the present moment: what do we feel, what sensations or emotions arise, what do we think, what is happening now?
without reacting: normally when we have a thought we react automatically. Sometimes we regret it. Observe your reactions and pause before acting. This gives us the opportunity to choose an answer. Also we learn to better know ourselves.
without judgment: we like, we dislike, it is good, it is bad. Letting go of judgments allows us to see things as they really are rather than through our conditioning.
with an open heart: we bring to our self observation qualities of kindness, compassion, warmth and friendliness. Why? Because we are worth it. Because it makes our experience of life better.
Some of the benefits to mindfulness:
Boosting the immune system
Calming the mind
Understanding and soothing our emotions
Reducing anxiety and preventing depression
Making better decisions
Article in French: La pleine conscience