Mindfulness is a way of life, and if you’re not already practicing this, it can be an effective way to improve your life! Adopting mindfulness can help to relieve stress and anxiety, lengthen attention span, avoid burnout, and quiet the mind in difficult moments.
What is Mindfulness?
Simply put, mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment, not the one before or the one to come. It is the art of paying attention. It might sound strange, but mindfulness is essentially doing nothing. It is true awareness.
Mindfulness stems from Buddhism, which dates back to the 6th century BCE. However, mindfulness is not just for Buddhists. It is universal. You don’t even have to practice meditation to cultivate mindfulness, although the two are connected. Mindfulness in itself is a form of meditation.
You don’t have to sit still under a tree for days, like the Buddha, in order to experience mindfulness. There are plenty of ways to embrace mindfulness in your everyday life. In fact, mindfulness can be easily incorporated into the mundane tasks that you are already doing. Here’s a guide to mindfulness for beginners;
How Can You Practice Mindfulness?
You can practice mindfulness when washing the dishes, folding the laundry, or driving your car. Gardening or tending to plants are also activities in mindfulness. What do all of these things have in common? They are opportunities to notice, to tap into the tiny details of life. To be present, as you feel the hot water on your hands, smell the dish soap, and listen to the sound of the faucet, for example. By bringing awareness to our lives, we can experience more. More beauty and joy, as well as the not-so-desirable emotions, are necessary to live fully, necessary for self-awareness. Mindfulness can teach you a great deal about yourself if you are open to it.
Simple Steps to Being Mindful:
1. Observe your breathing. We breathe out of necessity and breathing is the best way to practice being mindful by starting to observe our breathing. This way, we can put our minds back into the moment. Taking a deep three breathes, sensing them, and counting them can make us feel relaxed and calm.
2. Connect with your senses. When we are busy with something, we usually don’t feel our senses. Sometimes out of habitual actions, we just act without thinking.
Try to notice the air touching your cheeks. Remove your sleepers and feel the floor from your sole. Feel your clothes on your body and try to focus on the sounds that you can hear around you. Smell the aroma of your coffee and feel the taste of its better sweetness.
Try to do it every day and you will be surprised with the joy and peace can bring you.
3. Do the things you love to do. We all have something that we love to do. Watching movies, listening to music, singing, painting, etc.
Try to lose yourself in doing what you love. Forget the other things that keep you busy for many hours and spend time doing the thing that you love and enjoy. Give your full attention and focus on it. It will make you fully alive!
4. Mind what you eat. You will be surprised how joyful it can be when eating mindfully. Notice the food on your plate. Observe its appearance and feel its taste and textures. Eat slowly and feel the food while chewing them. You can also notice its smell and try to say something about the taste.
Eating mindfully can help improve digestion and it can help you eat with the right amount.
For beginners’ guides to mindfulness 101 you can try this:
1. You can practice mindfulness the next time you go for a walk, by taking stock of your senses. Go without your headphones, and instead focus on the sounds around you. Notice what you hear. Maybe it’s the sound of your own breathing. Pay attention to the sounds in front of you, behind you, and make note of them in your head, as if making a list: “traffic, birds, wind”, etc. Now, what do you see? Make note of the colors. What do you smell? Take a deep breath in. Notice what you feel. What is the temperature like? How does it feel on your skin, against your face? Make note of all of these things, as you go along.
2. Try this – Take a minute out of your day, for deep, slow breathing. Count to 4 as you breathe in, hold for 4, and breathe out for 4. Repeat. You may find that brief moments like this, have an immediate impact on your well-being. Mindfulness allows us to discover the world in a brighter light.
3. Try this – The next time you listen to a song, really pay attention to the lyrics. What instruments can you hear? What is the tempo like? How does the music make your body feel?
4. Use Your 6th Sense – There is a deep realization of your senses in mindfulness, and that goes beyond your five senses. The mind is the 6th sense. Here, the mind doesn’t mean thinking. This is the elusive one because it’s not tangible. The 6th sense goes by many names, such as intuition. It means clear seeing and clear wisdom, which includes knowing ourselves.
You Don’t Need to Shut Off Your Thoughts
“When it comes right down to it, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking about right now, that’s what’s on your mind.”
The true challenge is avoiding past memories or future expectations, anything that can take you away from the present moment, the right now. Your thoughts will continue to swirl around in your head. That’s okay. Acknowledge their presence, but don’t hold on to them. Try not to judge your thoughts. Let them pass by like clouds in the sky.
“Like it or not, this moment is all we really have to work with.” – Jon Kabat Zinn