Arriving Home :: Living A Mindful Life
I’ve been asked quite a bit to write about why I choose to live a mindfulness-based lifestyle and how I do it. This ‘Arriving Home’ is dedicated to all of those who are walking the path of practice each day, in every way they can.
Meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand. When you meditate, you become more mindful. When you practice mindfulness, your meditation becomes stronger and deeper. Mindfulness by classical definition is the practice of having your attention in the present moment, in a nonjudgmental way, moment-to-moment. Over time, the ability to sustain your attention in the present moment grows, and you are able to practice being mindful during your day-to-day life.
For many of us, this is why we practice. To be present for our lives and in direct connection with our lives’ experiences is one the greatest gifts from meditation and mindfulness. It is also what is commonly referred to as ‘the path’. Once you start living in this way, you can’t help but remain on the path of practice and engage with living a mindful life.
Living mindfully and walking the path also encompasses a certain code of ethics and values passed on through tradition and generations for thousands of years. As explored in a past ‘Arriving Home’, when you meditate and practice mindfulness, you also grow qualities of the heart, such as compassion, kindness, inner-friendliness, empathy and more discernment and equanimity.
This “heartfulness” (a.k.a. mindfulness with your heart awakened and engaged) is what points a practitioner to begin living mindfully, making big and small adjustments in their life along the way.
The Five Precepts
The Five Precepts originated in the buddhist tradition and have served as an ethical guide to help accompany a person as they meditate and walk the path. Since meditation is also a purifying practice for the mind and the heart, living life mindfully, with integrity and compassion, helps a practitioner deepen their mindfulness and the ability to live with an open heart.
Living a mindful life means at some point or another, we become a bit less self-involved and more caring towards the world around us - including all beings in the world. The Five Precepts give us the roadmap for making choices that are based on non-harm, integrity, honesty and purification, so we become conduits of love and the presence of practice.
Being Intoxicant Free & A Non-Drinker
Two of the precepts have particularly resonated for me over the years. The first being, ‘abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind.’
I have personally seen a lot of harm from alcohol. The effects on a collective and societal level can be highly impactful. On a family and personal level, equally as harming. Being sober and a non-drinker has been one of the most life-changing choices I have made, and what gave me the courage to finally let go of drinking was my meditation practice.
Meditation came into my life on a daily level as part of my healing from an early adulthood trauma. Daily practice and being present was the medicine that my soul, heart and mind needed to heal. Day by day, hour by hour, I started to feel better, stronger and more me again. Both mindfulness and healing are a form of purification as we find our way back home to our true selves that may have become lost or broken through difficult experiences.
After consistent meditation practice, not only did I begin to heal and become whole again, but I also started to align more deeply with my truths and ethics. The more I meditated, the more my heart and mind yearned to be free of intoxicants. So finally, one New Year’s Eve, I became brave enough, sure enough and confident enough to give up drinking forever. I said farewell to having a social crutch and hello to living a clean life based on awareness. My trust and confidence in meditation had become so strong, I knew I had no other choice but to listen to my truth and insights that had been revealed.
The other precept I have strongly adhered to is not harming through speech and the words I choose to speak. When you begin to live with mindfulness and an open heart, you also become more sensitized to your actions and thoughts and the world around you. Cause and effect becomes clearer, and your ripple effect in the world starts to matter to you even more.
Words carry energy and frequency. Each time we speak, we have the opportunity to heal or harm. The vibration of swearing, gossiping or speaking without meaning just to speak out of conditioning or nervousness doesn’t heal, it vibrationally harms.
By speaking mindfully, I know that it is my choice to practice mindfulness and non-harm. By being mindful of the words I choose, express and share, I know I am contributing to my own inner healing and the healing of others in a small, yet significant way. Choosing to live a mindful life is also choosing to stand for healing and love.