Is mindfulness contagious? Can someone share the present moment with a complete stranger whom they never saw or spoken to ever? Interesting questions. I am not an expert in mindfulness. Far from it. I’m merely a student that is willing to learn and eager to understand more.
Last week, I looked across the street from my office window. I noticed a woman ice skating on the town’s seasonal ice skating rink. There was no one else on the rink, just her. She was casually ice skating. At first, I didn’t think much of it. As with many workdays, it’s easy for stress, mental engagement, and problem solving to pull me away from the world. However, this time was different. I found myself captivated.
Her patterns changed. She skated backwards, performed some figure eights, and some spins. I found myself watching her movements and appreciating the grace of each maneuver. Her expressions of concentration and joy shown throughout her face and body language.
Wait, am I experience Mindfulness?
There is no shortage of books, blogs, and podcasts about mindfulness. As I read various authors about their feelings and thoughts on the topic, everything seems so internalized and self-centered to me. However, my experience demonstrates to me that mindfulness is not just about the self, but about the whole world and one’s place in the present moment. A complete stranger whom I’ve never saw or spoke to before is enjoying a moment of ice skating, and so am I from my office window.
Although this entire experience only lasted a few minutes, it wasn’t until the moment passed that I realized I was there, experiencing it as it happened, and being fully aware of the present. The slight breeze in the cold December air, the way she moved around the ice, the sun shining in the sky, and the cars passing on the street.
I walked outside and took a picture. Now, each time I see this photo I’ll remember the moment and remind myself to be more aware of the world around me. Sensory cues are a great way to trigger memory.
The whole experience was positive and left me in a better mood for the rest of the day. Perhaps I found the magic formula, an unwritten rule, or hidden secret of the cosmos. So, I tried to reproduce the same conditions on different days by randomly looking out the window at the skating rink. Unfortunately, each attempt never had the same effect, nor did I feel the same about it.
It was a unique moment in time that I had a privilege of being present. It reminds me that all moments are special, each with its own feelings and experiences. From my perspective, I learned that mindfulness isn’t something that is only for me to experience by myself. It can be something shared with other people without any interaction between them.
I believe mindfulness is contagious. As I witnessed someone else present in the moment, it drew me out of my head and into the world. Perhaps this is a mindful exercise that can be performed daily. Each day, I’ll take a few moments to breath in and out, look around, and describe to myself what my senses are experiencing. It’s worth trying, and may help me understand myself more as I’m always striving to be the best me.