I love this description by Jan Chozen Bays on how mindfulness gradually grows into our daily lives. It’s an excerpt from her latest book, How to Train a Wild Elephant.

People often say to me, “I’d love to practice mindfulness, but I’m so busy I can’t seem to find the time.”

Most people think of mindfulness as something they must squeeze into an already full schedule of working, raising children, caring for a home. Making mindfulness part of your life is more like a paint-by-numbers kit. You begin with one small area of your life, let’s say becoming aware of the earth beneath your feet. Several times a day, particularly while walking, you bring your attention to the earth that supports your steps. You do this for a week or so, until you’ve added the color of attention to that daily activity.

Then you add another mindful practice, such as eating mindfully. Once this way of being present is integrated into your life, you add another. Gradually you are present and aware for more and more moments of the day. The pleasing experience of an awakened life begins to emerge.

What we call peak moments are times when we are completely aware. Our life and our awareness are undivided, at one. At these times the gap between us and everything else closes and suffering disappears. We feel satisfied, actually, we are beyond satisfaction and dissatisfaction. We are present. We are presence. We get a tantalizing taste of what Buddhists call the enlightened life.

These moments inevitably fade, and there we are again, divided and grumpy about it. We can’t force peak moments or enlightenment to happen. The tools of mindfulness, however, can help us close the gaps that cause our unhappiness. Mindfulness unifies our body, heart and mind, bringing them to focused attention. When we are thus unified, the barrier between “me” and “everything else” becomes thinner and thinner, until, in a moment, it vanishes! For a while, often a brief moment or occasionally a lifetime, all is whole, all is holy, and at peace.

Jan Chozen Bays, MD, is a pediatrician and a longtime meditation teacher. She is the author of Mindful Eating and lives outside Portland, OR.

Original link from Tricycle.com