“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” — James Baraz

In your mind, visualize yourself in a typical zone of your day-to-day life.

Think of the same routes traversed every week, or perhaps every day; the moments accustomed to; the identical tasks almost robotically done.

Now imagine your entire life frozen in time. You are amid one of these very familiar moments.

Unperturbed, you look around. To your left and right are the people you know, the activities you regularly partake in, the things you value and the others you dismiss, and the thoughts invariably playing through your head, all religiously following the daily regimen of your life.

But what happens when you swivel to the side where everything that went unnoticed in your eyes suddenly appears?

You start to notice new sights, scents, people, noises...a new reality unfolding like an additional dimension being added to the preexisting walls of your world.

You begin to discover new ideas, your previously locked mindset now exposed to new perceptions, sensations and beliefs.

You feel in sync from within, a newfound connection forming between your body and everything else in existence.

A seemingly extreme concept, the integration of diverse elements into our lives opens the door to a radical approach, although it should not feel like one. The approach is mindfulness, a term open to interpretation in and of itself.

One may choose the mindful way by maintaining an adept awareness of their surroundings, adapting to change with acceptance and readiness. Others might interpret mindfulness as a simple dedication to life in the present moment.

The underlying principle is being open and meeting every day with the desire to be. Mindfulness is being flexible, being inquisitive, being focused, and being there.

Clearly, this idea is not being propagated, and many of us do not even realize how the innate sense of mindfulness governs our mind.

Essentially, we have the ability to control ourselves by gravitating toward positive thoughts when we are triggered by anything invoking a negative reaction.

A strong command of mindfulness puts you in the lead, allowing you to deplete what makes you depleted and recharge the power of your personal will.

Aside from the beauty of the world we reject by allowing our impulsive emotions to take over, we also disregard new opportunity by failing to acknowledge the intuitive sparks that float up to guide us.

Stressors, anger and feelings of despair disembody the mindful approach, allowing us to activate higher levels of consciousness, therefore hindering well-being. We may never discover our true capacity by living in a state of conformation, as opposed to one of initiation and absolute awareness.

Anytime we adjust our way of experiencing or doing things, the impact on our life is both significant and immediate. Change is almost always beneficial, and adding variation to our lifestyle by practicing mindfulness can only be viewed as a gift.

There is no secret formula to mindfulness, nor is there a right or wrong way to achieve it.

From my experience, implementing it every day can be as simple as slowing down what you are doing to reflect on the day; focusing on your breath as you wake up and go to sleep; even just paying attention to the movement of people, animals and life around you.

Next time you are aggravated or overwhelmed by a surge of emotion, I encourage you to step back and imagine yourself amid the situation from aside. It’s truly remarkable how shifting our focus can influence our relations to a person, event, or even to ourselves.

But why wait until the negativity reaches us?

Mindfulness is not a technique, it’s a way of life creating appreciation for all that lies in the present moment, therefore making our perspectives more insightful and our overall outlook more optimistic.

When we appreciate, we practice gratitude, and when we sink into gratitude, we evolve into happier people.

Gabriella Kovalenko is a student at New Milford High School.