After 2020, we can all likely agree that mindfulness is something that we could all benefit from. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few practical tips for how you can use mindfulness in a way that’ll allow for more balance & well-being in your life. Spoiler alert: the whole point is to stay present!
What does it mean to act mindfully?
Simply put, being mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and your actions.
But, what does that even mean? Let’s take for example, the act of eating. Instead of having lunch while reading emails, where you are not totally focused on your food, try closing that computer and noticing each bite of food. How does it taste? How does it make you feel? What else can you notice? Are you satisfied or are you still hungry?
Mindfulness is about directing your full attention to everything that you do and trying to separate one act or task from another, while you’re remaining fully present.
Becoming a more mindful person doesn't happen overnight. In essence, when you set out to become more mindful, you need to train the brain to become aware of sensations, thoughts, feelings and impulses that you may never have paid attention to before. Similar to yoga or meditation, it’s a practice or habit that can be improved each and every day by focusing on it. To become more mindful it’s helpful to slow down. With so many of us used to running from moment to moment, thankfully, the pandemic has in many ways forced us to do just that!
Acknowledging that it doesn’t come simply, there are many areas in our life where we can practice mindfulness. The key is to take it one step at a time and start with something small and simple.
As a society we’re obsessed with productivity and “being still” is in and of itself is very often a forgien concept to us. That said, try to create some space in your day to focus on doing nothing except focusing on your breath. Resist the urge to throw on a podcast or music, to think about what’s next or what happened in the past. Ensure no distractions. Now, notice how your body fills itself with air while your stomach expands and how it shrinks as you exhale.
It’s important to note here that your mind and thoughts cannot simply be shut off—and that isn’t the goal either. What is the goal then? To be aware of those thoughts, to be mindful of them. While you are noticing your breath you may still be distracted by your thoughts and this is why we must practice returning to the present. Some have said it’s helpful to notice your thoughts as clouds, they do exist — just allow them to float on by. As you begin your practice, it can be helpful also to set a time limit. Be easy on yourself, patience is key!
Connect With Nature
Another area that naturally aligns with mindfulness is being immersed in our natural surroundings. As humans, we were not meant to live indoor lives attached to devices. Our natural state involves us connecting to the earth and the rhythms of the sun and moon. Taking a nature walk or hike is a great place to practice mindfulness by noticing the sights, sounds and invigorating smells around you.
Sometimes when we are deeply immersed in an activity we are passionate about we pay attention only to that one thing. Whether it’s cooking, art, music, journalling—being present is the key. When thoughts and distractions come up, think about and embrace what is right in front of you.
With mindfulness, the same line of thought goes for all other situations. If you are on the phone with a friend, focus on your conversation. If your child is talking to you - listen carefully. If you’re in the shower and flooded with anxious worry, try to come back to being in the moment. If you are exercising and finding yourself only thinking about the amount of work you have ahead, come back to your breath, feel the burn in your muscles and the heat and warmth throughout your body. It’s okay to get sidetracked, but remember, the key is to always bring yourself back to the present moment. And, as a general thought, be mindful of your actions. Why? Because, like the saying we have heard many times before, “actions speak louder than words.”
All that is written above boils down to mindfulness = staying present, but there are a few other notable things to remember when it comes to being more mindful. Mindfulness is simple, but not always easy! In our culture it certainly doesn't come naturally for most. And, although it’s free and can be done anywhere, it does take time, practice and patience. Lastly, it’s actually a good thing to acknowledge and accept your thoughts as they are, they aren’t the enemy and there is no need or value in judging our thoughts.
It’s Time to Unwind!
Comments will be approved before showing up.