Mindfulness can be defined as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” This way of being has been incorporated in various medical, school and mental health settings proving its ability to positively change lives. The main three aspects of practicing mindfulness are awareness, non-judgment and acceptance.
Mindfulness is not something that can be developed after practicing once for five minutes. It’s a way of being and therefore requires a lot of commitment and practice. Luckily, there are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life and it doesn’t necessarily mandate sitting still with your eyes closed as the only answer. Everyone practices mindfulness differently, so it’s important to find the method that works best for you. It’s understandable that it can be really difficult for some to “turn off” their thoughts or to find stillness, but there are many ways to get started toward living mindfully. Here are some ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life:
1. Observe your surroundings
Begin to notice the little things you tend to pass by every day. Textures, colors, shapes, movement. Scan one thing at a time (whether it be plants, your loved one, a chair, your pen, a river, etc.) and take it in as if it’s the first time you’ve seen it.
2. Know that you are not your thoughts
Our mind’s job is to create thoughts. These thoughts are sometimes meaningful, but most of the time pointless. Our thoughts help us navigate through our world, but most of the time our thoughts are clutter, negative or about the past or future. So, take the time to separate yourself from your thoughts. Know that your mind is creating these thoughts and they may not hold any actual truth, so let it go and be present.
3. Accept what is
In a world where we are constantly seeking something “more” or wishing something was different (our jobs, family, how we look, etc.), it’s important to take what is offered and find contentment in things we cannot control or change. Let’s learn to grow along with it, rather than look into the future for something new.
4. Move mindfully
When you find yourself walking, running, exercising, or sitting, just notice of your body and its movements. Equalize those movements with your breathing. Build awareness of how the body and breath work together to make this happen.
5. Eat mindfully
Take in your next snack or meal slowly. Notice the textures and tastes by chewing slowly and allowing yourself to truly enjoy it.
6. Listen mindfully
Listen to the sounds around you, from the sound of cars driving outside, the birds chirping in the trees or people talking next door. Every sound contributes to your moment. Take it in. Especially listen to those you are having a conversation with. Put the phone down and genuinely listen and connect.
7. Just “be”
Be human. Pause. Reset. Exist. Nothing more, nothing less. Find stillness in your on-the-go lifestyle.
Give one or all of these a try and experience true presence in your workplace, school, relationships, etc. You’ll find a deeper connection to others, the world and yourself. Live mindfully.