Mindfulness is a popular subject these days; and while it helps unveil many of our personal virtues, there’s a lack of information on how to effectively make mindfulness a part of our life experience.
Simply said, mindfulness is being conscious and aware of the present moment.
Oxford Dictionary defines mindfulness as, “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
You can say that mindfulness is a way of life – and therefore, not for you – but mindfulness begins as a skill; which means, we must first begin with practice. By beginning to live your life in a mindful manner, you will be able to measure the beneficial transformation to both your mental and physical health. Mindfulness has been found most useful in treating chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.
Now, this is a mind boggler; by keeping your mind in the present moment, you will unequivocally avoid two negative emotions: Regret and Anxiety. If your mind is constantly consumed with the past, you’re likely to feel regret. If your mind is constantly worrying about the future or worrying about things that may never happen, you’re likely to feel anxiety. Now, if you’re not thinking about the future, you can’t worry about it! And if you let go of the past, you can’t be tortured. Easier said than done, right?
There is a highly engaged state that your brain experiences called, The Flow State, which can be achieved more consistently if you meditate and focus on one thing at a time. During this period, people have the ability to maintain 100% focus and increase their productivity tremendously. Practicing mindfulness will improve your effort towards expanding your peak performance and optimal communication; bringing you one version closer towards becoming your best self.
If you want to increase your ability to communicate with others, mindfulness is a sure way to increase your understanding in this area too. Remember, communication is 100% about the other person, and in order for us to be in a state of mind where we can listen, we have to learn to be in the absolute present moment – not the one inside your head.
There’s a lot of debate on how many days it takes to form a new habit, but one thing is for sure: Forming a new habit takes conscious effort over a consistent amount of time.
Take advantage of these ideas to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life:
- Begin your day with mindfulness even before you get out of bed. Spend a few moments getting in touch with your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell? Notice all the physical sensations of your body. Do you have any aches or pains? What part of your body feels the most pressure on your bed? See how long you can lie still before your thoughts drift to something other than your body or your immediate surroundings.
- Be mindful of your body, and continue to remind yourself to be mindful of your body throughout the day. This is a great way to anchor your attention to the present. When you find your attention wandering, put your focus on your breath. Close your eyes and let your mind focus on the sounds and the smells of your surroundings.
- Use routine activities to hone in your mindfulness skills. One of the best ways to create a mindfulness habit is to be mindful of your daily tasks. This includes things like brushing your teeth, using the restroom, showering, driving, mowing the grass, and so on. Don’t allow yourself to go into autopilot!
◦ Eating. Be especially mindful during eating. Chew your food slowly and be fully aware of how your food tastes and smells. This is also a great way to slow down your consumption and help you eat less. If you’re like me and trying to lose weight, then you know that eating slower and learning to enjoy your food helps the dieting process go by much easier.
- Use music to change your state of mind. Listening to music is another great opportunity to practice mindfulness with your sense of hearing. Try to identify each instrument in the song. See how well you can keep your focus on the music instead of allowing other thoughts to intrude.
- Have a conversation. Being present and mindful during a conversation gives a tremendous boost to your ability to build rapport and strengthen your relationships. Give your full attention to your conversations and the other people involved. Are you listening with your full awareness, or are you impatiently waiting to speak again? Are you noticing how their tone of voice is going up and down while they speak? Does their body language shift? What kind of emotional state do they seem to be in? People will tell you exactly what is on their mind if you only learn how to listen and ask questions.
- Put your phone away. Your smartphone can be a huge distraction and obstacle to mindfulness. Avoid checking your email or social media accounts until a suitable time. This is especially important when you are spending time with others. Many of us practice spending quality time with the people who we cherish most in our lives but have no idea on how we can improve the state and quality of time in which we spend together. Nowadays, it’s not rare to see a group of friends hanging out near each other and spending time on their gadgets instead of being present and creating progress in their relationships – yet we wonder why we fight, argue or feel lonely.
◦ Do a little experiment and see how long you can go without checking your phone. See how long you can go without thinking about your phone. You might be surprised by the results.
- Set a reminder. A timer can be an effective way of cueing you to be mindful. When the timer alerts you, remind yourself to be mindful and immediately practice mindfulness. Refocus your attention on whatever you’re doing at that moment. If you have a strict schedule, with lots of stuff going on, setting a reminder to practice mindfulness for 5 minutes can help ground you. It might actually be that huge stress reliever you needed today.
Mindfulness is a wonderful thing. It can relieve stress, increase enjoyment, increase productivity, reduce anxiety, and help you to build a more accurate view of the world.
Knowing how to be mindful isn’t enough. You have to make it a habit that you rely on throughout the day. Make mindfulness a part of your life and watch the transformation.
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