Una's Blog


61 Mindfulness

graphic-1by Una Hearne.

I was hearing a lot about mindfulness and being in the moment recently and I began to think about how it applies to my life. I do experience being fully present in my work. When I am coaching someone, training or writing I find my full focus is on what is going on, the rest of the world could fall around me and I wouldn’t notice I am so absorbed. Time disappears and I never want to be anywhere other than where I am right then. I don’t really experience that any other time except maybe when I am transported by a good book or a movie – of course that isn’t being fully present in my own life!

I don’t think we could or should be fully present in every moment. Our brains are designed to roam the past and imagine the future. We have, as a species, an unfortunate tendency to turn this into dwelling and ruminating on how things have gone wrong in the past or into worrying about the future. This is something we need to minimise as it doesn’t serve us. But remembering and re-living wonderful times from our past is very important, it reminds us of what we love and how great life can be, it helps us define what we want to preserve and create in our lives. It also helps us remember how we have overcome difficulties and what resources and strengths we possess. The ability to imagine the future is one of the extraordinary things that makes us different from the rest of the animal kingdom. Everything humans have ever created or built from the first cave man’s club to the latest smart phone was imagined first. Visiting the past and the future in a positive way are as important as being present.

So no, I wouldn’t like to be fully present in the moment every moment. However I often miss things because I’m not really ‘there’. I only realise afterwards that I didn’t experience something fully. This is a trivial example but it does illustrate what I mean – I avoid refined sugar as much as possible – tough work when you are a chocoholic. So last Saturday I was having my once-a-week (allowable-because-life-is-not-worth-living-without-a-few-pleasures) bar of chocolate. Cup of coffee, QI on the telly, feet up and chocolate. Does it get any better? Not for me! Now, I don’t know where my attention wandered off to in these circumstances but 5 minutes later I have finished the coffee and chocolate and had ZERO recollection of having consumed, let alone enjoyed them. OMG what a giant waste of sugar allowance! Might as well not have had it. Would be a lot better off if I hadn’t! But it got me thinking about how many ordinary extraordinary little pleasures I might be missing on a regular basis, not to mention the big events and experiences.

Anyone got any ideas on how to remember to be present for the stuff you really want to enjoy and remember? Answers on a postcard please!


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