A lot of people hear mindfulness, and their thoughts run to religions like Buddhism. They picture someone meditating for hours upon hours. And they would be partly right.
In fact, most religions practice mindfulness through varying degrees of philosophy, prayer, and fasting. However, being religious is not a requirement for mindfulness. In fact, anyone can practice it and grow spiritually merely through repetition.
Mindfulness is being aware of everything that is happening around you without judging any of it. When we are mindful, feelings, thoughts, events, and experiences pass through us. And we understand and accept that they are all part of life, and not to be judged as good or bad.
Seeing everything as a whole, as part of something bigger, and as happening for a reason, is being mindful.
Instead of minutely dissecting our feelings and experiences, we acknowledge everything and move on. If we are mindful, we don’t judge ourselves or the people around us for their actions.
As part 7 of the Eightfold Path teachings in Buddhism, mindfulness is breaking out of being affected continuously by self and stepping into the full presence of the whole.
Most think that spirituality and science have little in common. But there are numerous studies on the effects of mindfulness.
And this research shows that mindfulness can help many forms of addiction. It can also reverse depression and improve overall gratification and peace with your life.
One of the great things about this research is that mindfulness and the practices to embrace it are being taken seriously by the scientific community. Doctors are willing to go a step further than their prescription pads are now recommending mindfulness as a therapy.
You see the news; the Opioid crisis is gripping the Western World. And more and more people suffering from stress, anxiety, pain, and depression.
Mindful meditation could treat and alleviate the symptoms for many of these people.
Mindfulness enhances function and raises neural activity in the middle prefrontal lobe of the brain. It also has the benefit of boosting the immune function in the body.
The research is ongoing, and the experts are still determining the extent to which mindfulness can change our brain chemistry.
With more research there will be further discoveries, so for now here’s a list of activities that mindfulness positively affects:
- Reduced symptoms of depression
- Improved memory
- Increase in focus
- Better stress management
- Less emotional reaction to the surroundings
- Improvement in cognitive flexibility
- Satisfaction in life and relationships
- Better fear management
- Better intuition
- Increase in self-insight
- Increase in morality
As it is with many precious commodities, a little mindfulness can go a long way.
So how do you make it happen?
My thought is embrace it slowly and gradually instead of jumping in and expecting massive results on the first day. You know the phrase, everything worth having is worth working for and worth waiting for.
Here are three universal steps of mindfulness that we must all cross if we want to embrace mindfulness in our life.There is a law of the universe that says to allow something new into your life; you must have space for it. Click To Tweet
In today’s hectic life, we become accumulators. We get cluttered from head to toe with overthinking, negative thinking, judgments, and destructive beliefs.
There’s practically no space for anything new. So to let mindfulness in, we must first make space.
If we have to let go of certain things that no longer serve us, why not start by:
- Letting go of resentment
- Forgiving yourself and others for past mistakes and transgressions
- Freeing yourself from your ego and need to be right
- Letting go of your limiting belief system
- Letting go of expectations that make it unable to enjoy the little things in life
Step 2 Towards Mindfulness: GIVE TIME
Modern life is all about deadlines and priorities. You prioritise your agenda for the day and do what’s most important, letting the less critical stuff drift.
If you don’t prioritise mindfulness from the outset, you will never start.
I understand you might be busy, but if you have no time to devote to anything new, then you need to create more time.
Wake up a little earlier and practice mindful meditation. Or take your lunch break in nature and become aware of your thoughts.
There are millions of ways to do it; you have to carve out the one that suits you best and be willing to stick to it.
Think of the time devoted to mindfulness versus the time dedicated to something else is like an investment versus an expense. The time for mindfulness gives back in many ways, so don’t look at it as a cost.
Step 3 Towards Mindfulness: GIVE SPACE
When starting to practice mindfulness techniques, be generous to yourself and make space for it.
Avoid doing it while everyone is around you. You cannot expect to achieve mindfulness while your children are running around, your partner walks in asking where you left the phone charger and the TV is blaring in the background.
Enter a quiet spot, put headphones on, or create a partition with a piece of furniture.
The more you give to it, the more you will benefit. Be generous towards yourself. It is an investment in you.
“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.”
Robin S. Sharma
Here are six simple tips that will help you change your perspective and become more mindful. Follow them and be persistent. In no time at all, you will start feeling the benefits.
Appreciate your surroundings
So many people complain about the weather, no matter what it is doing. They complain, and some aren’t even aware that they are complaining. They do it so often that they lapse into it without conscious thought.
By doing so, you show that you don’t appreciate the current moment you are in and you wish for something else.
So start with the weather. Embrace the current weather you are in right now and vow to not complain about it again.
I will bet that traffic jams and red lights are unappreciated in most people’s lives. However, they can be seen as a positive.
Admittedly, you may think I am crazy for suggesting this one. But just as everything else has positive and negative sides, traffic jams could have a positive side.
Namely, it’s time you have to yourself. Why not sit back, relax, and observe the others?
Observe how many are trapped in anger, pressing their car horns and swearing as if the noise will change anything.
You know that whether you stress about it or not it will pass. So why choose to behave like that?
Use this time to listen to a podcast or music. Alternatively, pull over and meditate. Reframe this as your personal ‘me time’ so use it wisely.
Create a mindful morning routine
If you have a busy lifestyle, then chances are, your mornings are the best time you have for mindful opportunities. Take them and be mindful while showering, brushing your teeth, fixing breakfast, or doing your morning exercise routine.
These are all fantastic opportunities to work on yourself. While in the shower, start by noticing how the water feels against your body. Notice how it moves on your skin. Feel the temperature and be aware of your thoughts as they appear.
Soon this shower technique will become something that will transfer to your other morning routines. And as you get better at it, you will be able to go through your day being completely mindful.
Mindful household chores
Many of us think of our household chores the same way they think of traffic jams. It’s something you probably hate it. It takes a lot of your time, and it’s something that you have to do whether you like it or not.
When you are “stuck” like this, use the time wisely and practice mindfulness. Doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning the dishes can all be done with observation and active intention.
Relax, no one is asking you to love housework. You get to choose to be an active observer of your thoughts and try to change them into more positive ones.
Another thing you can do is listen to something that you have meant to but couldn’t find the time. A TED talk, self-improvement podcast, eBook, or music.
While doing this, become body aware as well. Mindfulness isn’t only about being present in your thoughts and mind. It is a time to check in with your body too.
- How is your posture?
- Are you breathing from your diaphragm?
- Do you slouch while standing?
All these can be fixed while doing your chores by being mindful. By creating the habit of checking in with your body frequently, you will start walking and holding yourself more gracefully.
Enjoy time with your children
We often avoid taking delight in spending time with our children because they are messy or we stay in parent mode all the time. Children require our full attention and a lot of energy.
Just what you need to practice mindfulness. Have you ever tried playing with children while your mind is drifting somewhere else? It’s practically impossible.
Physically with your children but mentally at work? They start jumping and climbing on you before you know it. And it serves you right. They are your children so be fully engaged in the moment.
Laugh all your troubles away with your kids, even if it’s only for a moment. These moments give us the strength to be larger than our fears.
Meditation is inevitable
Many people are under the impression that meditation is too hard and it is difficult to master. That is not the case. As long as you start small.
If you went all in with a full hour of unguided meditation and struggled after three minutes, that makes you normal. We need to start with more manageable steps and employ a few shortcuts to help master the big journey.
Why not undertake the big journey of meditation through 7-10 minute guided meditation videos you can find online? Or download a free App for your phone? All it requires is a cushion to sit on, a quiet spot, you and your mind.
Find what feels right for you and stick with it until you’re ready to progress. Pushing yourself into something you’re not prepared for will only make you resent it and want to quit.
Meditation is known to improve stress management, mental focus, skin complexion, bone density even and boost your immune system. So why wait?
Surrounding sounds as reminders
Now that you have those tips, this one will serve you to bring you back into alignment with your mindfulness.
Create the habit of hearing noisy sounds around you and turn them into a reminder to check in with your thoughts and your body.
Anything you might hear around you like trains, alarms, construction workers, and church bells and so on. When you hear any, give yourself the opportunity to breathe deeply, stretch your body and see what you have been thinking so far.
- Was your jaw clenched?
- Were your shoulders tensed up?
- Are you feeling thirsty or hungry?
These small check-ins show that you take care of your body and have the power to change with minimal effort.Mindfulness is one of the best investments that you can make in yourself. Click To Tweet
Drop a comment to let me know how you made it happen. Want to be more mindful? Find out here.