We live in our heads a lot where there is fear, worry, concerns, routines, deadlines, pressures, pain, trauma, and responsibilities. Life can feel like a never-ending maze of chasing one thing after another. There are also very many distractions available in our world today like social media which can negatively impact us by holding our attention for hours unproductively. Most people are just getting by life on autopilot…they are in it but not truly living it the way they should in healthy ways.
Mindfulness is a practice that directs us back to ourselves in a very noisy and busy world. This quote by James Baraz puts it so well,
“Mindfulness is 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).”
Simply put, mindfulness is being intentional with where you direct your attention. With so much happening in our lives and the world, mindfulness is the last thing people think about because we just want to get the next thing done…never really slowing down to enjoy the present moment, live in it, process it, and accept it. Mindfulness is a reminder that there’s a lot of joy that can be found in the NOW…and focusing on it can reduce our fears and worries about the past and future.
How to practice mindfulness
Be aware of your everyday normal activities like showering, dressing up, eating, driving, walking, etc. Don’t just do these things as routine. Let all your senses be engaged and notice yourself doing the activities. How does it feel? Do you enjoy them? Can you do them better like eat slower or drive more carefully?
Observe your life as it is happening like an impartial witness. This means taking your life as it is…the good, bad, and the in-between without judging your experiences or taking them personally. Think of your life as a story with many twists and turns that can sometimes be rewarding, surprising, or shocking.
Notice your thoughts and feelings no matter how chaotic they may be and let them just be. Don’t judge yourself if they are negative. Practice acceptance of all your thoughts remembering that they are temporary and they aren’t facts. You are bound to have very many emotions in a day so take them as they are.
Do one thing at a time. Avoid multitasking or taking on more than you can handle. Do that one thing slowly and do it well. Say no to things that deplete your attention and energy and set boundaries where necessary.
Be self-compassionate. How can you love and care for yourself like someone you genuinely care about like a dear friend? How would you talk to that friend? Try to be kind and understanding with yourself as you go through different situations and learn how to quickly forgive yourself.
Practice letting go of what you can’t control. Keep a mental note of what is within your control which is mostly how you can respond to things. If there’s not much you can do, practice detaching yourself from its outcome. You can only do so much in a tight situation.
Be patient with yourself and others. Instead of reacting to things, try taking your time to intelligently respond to them. Give yourself time to also process things or get through them. Extend grace to who you are and who you are becoming.
See challenges as opportunities for growth instead of obstacles. What can you learn from a failed situation? How can you do things in much better and more efficient ways? How does it make you a better and wiser person?
Make room for mistakes. Allow yourself to not be perfect and to fail. When mistakes happen, pick yourself up and keep moving. Failure is a part of life and you shouldn’t condemn yourself for not getting it right no matter how many times you fail.
Practice deep breathing to regulate your nervous system. Take long deep breaths with your mind focused on how the air goes in and out of your lungs. Do this when you’re overwhelmed even if it’s just for a minute.
The next time you do anything even if it’s as mundane as commuting home from work, do this:
Notice colors and name them like a blue sky, pink flowers, a burnt orange sunset, a yellow bird, a green coat, etc. Admire that color like how beautiful and satisfying it is to watch the sunset.
Keep your ears open for the sounds like cars hooting, phone ringing, birds chirping, a melodious voice, a sweet song, the sound of a gentle breeze, etc. Soothe your ears with the sounds you love like your children playing in the background.
Savor the taste of your food and drinks like coffee, ice cream, lunch, dinner, etc. How do they taste in your mouth? Sweet, tangy, bitter, tasteless, etc. Go full-on chef if you have to just enjoy how the food excites your taste buds.
Notice how your clothes fit and feel on your body, how the sun hits your skin, the touch of a loved one, how your feet feel on the ground, the warmth of a blanket, how the weather makes your body feel, etc.
Catch the smells in your environment like a scented candle, the flowers, clean air, food cooking, coffee brewing, your favorite perfume, your showering soaps, the neighborhood, the smell of the ground when it rains, etc.
Mindfulness takes practice but you can incorporate it as soon as now. If you need more guidance about how you can be more mindful in your life, at work, or in your relationships, kindly contact us for a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 786-490-5988. A mindful life is a happy life and you deserve that.