Mindfulness is about being in the “present” and being acute and aware but still sensitive and accepting of your feelings and thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is used as a therapeutic technique, but there are non-meditative ways to be more mindful that will improve your well-being.
When people talk about how to be more mindful, they often talk about living in the moment. But they don’t often define what that means or how it’s accomplished. Being in the moment simply means enjoying where you’re at in time without connecting it to anything in the past or future. It could be something as simple as actually stopping and listening to the birds sing, or laughing heartily at a funny joke. It means looking at the wonder of living right here, right now.
Yes, it’s what everyone strives to be able to do efficiently. But multitasking robs you of your ability to focus. Most of us are used to having our attention divided and have forgotten how to focus on just one thing. In fact, multitasking, according to one study, found it takes 50% longer to accomplish a task and we’re twice as likely to make mistakes. Unitasking, or taking one task at a time, allows us more pinpoint concentration. However, breaks between tasks are advised to clear your head for the next task.
Not forever, but have a healthy relationship with your phone and other devices, and realize they are only tools. Set and keep specific times when you will use the gadgets, then turn them off. Pick a gadget-free day from time to time, or don’t mess with your gadgets after a certain time at night. Don’t allow gadgets at the table where you eat. Put phones away when interacting with others and really listen to what they are saying and feeling.
Most of us just rush through a meal without really even tasting it. Learn to eat the kind of foods that nourish your body, and chew each bite thoroughly. Notice throughout the day the kinds of situations that make you want to eat even though you are not hungry - but eat only when you feel genuine hunger and eat only until you get full. Note the taste, and if you like the flavor. Pay attention to the texture and temperature.
You probably don’t even know how you are breathing right now. Are your breaths short and shallow, or long and deep? Our breath is often a barometer to our overall health, so it’s important not only to understand what our breathing is telling us but to be more conscious about how we’re doing it. Calming the breath often helps calm our minds as well. When stressed, sometimes just focusing on your breathing helps push stressful thoughts out of your mind. Deeper breaths, where you are using a larger portion of your lungs, are said to bring more oxygen into our bodies, allowing for better healing.
Don’t make excuses for not feeling them, all feelings are real. How you act on them, now that’s a different story. It’s okay to admit you feel jealous, defeated, or any other negative emotions you might be feeling, but just because you shake their hands doesn’t mean you need to invite them to dinner, and a simple hello will do. Then move on. Feelings don’t necessitate action - feeling jealous does not give you license to hurt people, for example. Note any time you are feeling particularly happy as well, and those feelings can stay as long as they want.
There’s a reason why this is part of the famous serenity prayer. Sure, there are things that we can change, but there are plenty of things that are outside of our realm of control. Just because you choose to let go of something doesn’t mean you are in agreement, it simply means you are no longer going to waste precious energy by putting it into something that will not benefit from it.
In very simplistic form, mindfulness is “stopping to smell the flowers” and giving yourself time to think and breathe. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But we all know there are more pressures in life we care to think of. Right? But let’s give it a go. I’m ready to make an effort. Who’s with me?
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