Change Your Life Through Mindful Living
To be mindful is to be aware of the present moment as it truly is. It is the ability to live in the present moment, paying attention to what’s going on around us without worrying about what was or will be. To be mindful is to pay no mind to past events and future what ifs, and to accept and surrender to your present situation, whatever it may be.
The only problem is, mindful living is easier said than done! We all know how hard it is to stay present. It’s not easy to stop your mind from wandering to something that happened 5 years ago or tomorrow meal plan. It’s near impossible!
It’s also difficult to stay present when your current situation is far from perfect. You may find your mind skipping forward to the future, whether it’s the dreaded future or your ideal future. You may find it traveling back in time trying to make sense of what lead you to the unforeseen events of your present. You may also find your mind wandering to anything but your current situation.
So, how exactly are we meant to stay mindful when there is so much going on in our minds? How can it help us deal with our issues? How can it bring peace and happiness into our lives?
Through awareness. To be aware of what’s going on in our lives right now and dealing with problems as they come up. Be fully aware of a situation before approaching it. Feel your emotions are they appear. Take note of your inner voice as it announces itself. Surrender yourself to your present, understand it, and live it moment to moment.
Mindfulness will teach you to assess your present situation without judgement. We go through life judging our past actions, mistakes and thoughts. We beat ourselves up about things that can’t be changed. We sabotage our future by holding onto our pasts. Mindfulness is learning to overcome this. Letting go of judgement and refusing to let it define you.
Mindfulness is freedom of the mind. It’ll teach you to stop controlling your life. To stop obsessing about things that can’t be changed. To pay attention to what’s really going on in the world around you.
Here are eight mindful practices to start living mindfully today.
There is no better way to practice living in the present moment than to meditate. It is the ultimate mindful practice. The breathing techniques performed during a meditation session will allow you to focus completely on your body at that present time. Although you may find that other thoughts may enter your mind, simply acknowledge them and let them go with the next breath. Here is an example of my mindful meditation.
- Find a quiet space free from distractions and it comfortably in a cross-legged position.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Allow your body to completely relax.
- Pay attention to your breath and follow it as it moves through your body.
- When you exhale, follow the breath as it moves up your throat and out of your mouth.
- Repeat this as many times as necessary.
2. Express Gratitude
This is one of my favourite practices and is something that I’ve recently started to dedicate at least half an hour of my evenings to. Gratitude is a wonderful way to stay mindful. What are you grateful for right this minute? Write a list each night of the things that you're most grateful of. Some things on your list may stay the same and some things may differ each night, but that’s okay.
I love this practice because it won’t just help you stay focused and aware of your present moment, but it can also help you appreciate things that you may have otherwise overlooked. A gratitude list can really put life into perspective.
3. Become One With Nature
Spending time in nature and drinking it all in is a great way to stay in the present. Step outside and feel the sun beating down on your face. Experience the wind blowing through your hair. Listen to the sound of the birds chirping in the distance. Breathe in the fresh air. Simply be there.
Another great mindfulness technique with nature is called grounding. Take off your shoes and stand outside. Connect with the earth beneath you, whether it’s grass, soil, sand or your garden path.
4. Slow Down
Modern day life is hectic. We spend our days rushing around, completing one task after another. Even when we’re not busy, we’re still busy. Being mindful is to be aware of your surrounding and to experience everything as if you’re doing it for the first time. So slow down. Stop rushing your tasks and take your time with them. Take a break and observe your surroundings. You may notice something that you haven’t before. Slowing down will also reduce your stress levels and can lead to making less mistakes.
5. Recognise Your Emotions
Emotions are a scary thing. But, in order to get past them and grow, we must recognise them and feel them out. The only thing worse than feeling an emotion is to leave that emotion fester. Only bad things come from bottling up your feelings, so just let them go.
The trick to mindfully releasing your emotions is to recognise how and why you’re feeling them. Acknowledge them but don’t judge them. Stop seeing you emotions as good or bad. See them for what and why they are.
6. Feel Your Senses
Our five senses are gifts that we often take for granted. They are also great tools for living mindfully. Connecting with your senses is a brilliant way to being yourself back to the present. Back to reality. When you feel yourself slipping back to the past or hurtling forward into the future, simply experience a moment with each of your five senses.
Take a few minutes to focus your mind and concentrate on what’s around you. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you taste? What can you feel? Take a minute to process this information.
7. Practice Yoga
Yoga is another must for mindful living. I find that a quick morning yoga session relieves me off the stress from the previous day and banishes any anxieties from my looming to-do list. Yoga is the perfect practice for checking in with your body as it is in that exact moment. By stretching out each muscle, feel any tension that may be hiding. Follow your breath with each pose. Feel the energy flow through your body. Be aware of your body as it is right here, right now.
8. Stop Multitasking
We all multitask from time to time. And we all know it doesn’t really work in our favour but we do it anyone. Many of us think that multitasking will get your tasks done quicker, but really, you’re just starting 5 tasks and finishing none. Multitasking also stops you from being able to focus completely on your tasks, meaning that you’re not really 'there' when you’re performing them. You’re not giving anything your full attention. Mindfulness is all about focus. Focusing on what’s going on around you. Experiencing things as they are, when they are. So stop jumping from one thing to another and then back again. Give your all to one task at a time and be in that moment when you're carrying it out.
I hope this post helped you feel a little better about taking time to yourself! What do you like to do with your alone time? Let me know in the comments below!
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