I find it really interesting that 10 or 20 years ago this topic was rarely discussed publicly. Now, “mindful” is a buzzword being discussed by major publications and figures like The Huffington Post and Oprah. I feel like there is a shift happening with the collective consciousness of the population. Open-mindedness and acceptance have become more valued in our society as we are fighting against discrimination and intolerance openly on social media. While our new technologies have revolutionized how we socialize, work and live, it can also be burdensome when over-consumed. As we increase our connection with others on the outside we tend to lose connection with ourselves. Incorporating a mindful practice into your daily life, can get you back to yourself and feel connected to what’s real and what matters.
Think back to the last time you were driving, folding laundry, or eating. Where was your mind during those times? The majority of the time you are, like me, probably thinking about something that has already happened, maybe imagining a bad moment over and over again beating yourself up over it, or something in the future that you wish to happen, need to do, or are worrying about. In that moment your mind was not with your body, it was elsewhere. This is what happens to us too much, and it disconnects us from our present reality.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being fully in the present, focusing on your awareness of sensations, feelings and experiences; observing and accepting what is happening at the present moment, without judgement. Mindfulness is used in many places as a therapeutic technique for relieving chronic pain, anxiety and depression.
How do we cultivate mindfulness?
For some, the idea of sitting down for 20 minutes a day and meditating is overwhelming, and puts on too much pressure. Your life can be one great big meditation practice if you are willing to be in the present moment.
Here are some steps toward living mindfully:
1). Pay attention to what you are doing right now, on purpose. Not because it’s a mindless activity, but because you are practicing awareness. It’s doing what you’re doing, and knowing you’re doing it. Take a walk without your headphones and listen to the sounds that are around you, look carefully at everything you see, feel the ground under your feet. When you find yourself thinking about the past or the future, don’t judge yourself, just bring it back to right now.
2). Observe your thoughts without judgement. When you realize that you are not your thoughts, you can separate yourself from them and they can’t get ahold of you anymore. Emotions and thoughts are always popping up at the worst times right? Part of the cycle is that we are too hard on ourselves for our bad thoughts. We like to punish ourselves. How many times have you said to yourself “that was so stupid, why did you do that?” If a feeling comes up, acknowledge that feeling but don’t judge yourself for it.
3). Observe your physical sensations. The the weight of your body on the ground. If you’re sitting in a chair, where do you feel the pressure of the chair on your body? The texture of the seat you’re in, the temperature of the room. The feeling of your shoes on your feet. Are you hungry, are you in pain, are you sleepy? If you are eating something, what is the taste and texture? Tune in to what your body is feeling everywhere.
While these steps are simple and do not take any extra time out of your day the way traditional meditation does, it’s not easy to remember to be mindful. The more you practice being mindful the more it becomes a habit. Start out by picking one or two activities throughout the day during which you will practice mindfulness. It could be cooking, cleaning, eating or anything that you can devote your full attention to that maybe you usualy don’t. In the comments section below, share how you practice mindfulness, or plan to begin a practice. I would love to hear all of your wonderful ideas!!!