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How I Use Mindfulness in Everyday Life

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When I exercise, I like to listen to music. Like many others, I enjoy walking to the beat of music. The right song or music helps to set a rhythm to my walking. However, recently I have been walking without listening to music, so I will not be distracted and can concentrate on my surroundings. I have schizophrenia, which sometimes alters my perception of what is going on around me. When I am not listening to music, I try to use my senses to recognize what is real and to experience what is really going on.

In my neighborhood I do not see “No Trespassing” signs. It is as if others want to encourage people to walk or ride their bikes. It is nice to see kind faces sharing their day with me. Sometimes there is a nice breeze. There are always cars on the road, but it is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, so they stop for walkers.

The cement sidewalk is hard. As I quicken my pace, I can feel air going in and out of my lungs. I walk around the parking lot of the Veteran’s Hospital and see two snow white swans dipping their heads in the pond. I see planes taking off at the airport and wonder where they are going.

There are bikers on the sidewalk; I try not to get in their way. They say, “Good morning,” and I do the same. There is a young couple outside the bagel shop enjoying their breakfast. There is a man walking his dog, and they see me, but I do not feel threatened. I nod a hello and they acknowledge with a nod back to me.

The cool breeze drives me to walk further. I take out my phone and check the app that counts my steps and tell me how far I have come. It has been about two miles. I walk by other restaurants and notice employees waiting for their manager to unlock the front door. I smell cigarette smoke.

I am still walking as I notice a house painted a robin’s egg blue. Then I hear workers hammering wood on a new house that had not been painted yet. I hear Spanish being spoken. I turn the corner and walk in the opposite direction. There are women in stores shopping for clothes. The clothes are hung nicely on the wall and on a rack in the middle of the store. There is a playground, but no children are playing. It must be too early, or they are in school.

On the front glass door of the stores there is a sign that says, “If you are vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask.” Nevertheless, some people are wearing masks as a precaution. At least people are out to enjoy the morning. I keep going still feeling the clean air in my lungs.

I really enjoy feeling a part of the day when I can use my senses to engage in reality. The only person who knows I have schizophrenia is me. No one feels threatened by me, and I am not threatened by them. When I listen to music, I can see things going on, but I cannot really experience life in my neighborhood as when I allow my senses to enjoy what is going on. I feel like I am being embraced by the air in my environment. It is a terrific way to engage true reality. It is a wonderful way to start my day. I hope you will try it sometime.

Getty image by Westend61

Originally published: March 7, 2022
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