“Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” – Lao Tzu
Chances are, you have heard of ‘mindfulness’ and you know that it is good for you. But do you really understand what mindfulness is and how to apply it?
This post will explain mindfulness in simple terms and provide practical examples of how you can use mindfulness in your everyday life.
What is Mindfulness?
“Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh
Quite simply, mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment.
Mindfulness is an integral part of many religious traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as secular traditions like yoga and, more recently, non-religious meditation.
Non-Judging – Be aware of what is happening in the present moment without making any decisions on whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair, important or unimportant etc.
Patience – Understand and accept that events will unfold in their own time, and on their own course.
Beginner’s Mind – Let go of all expectations based upon past experience.
Trust – Honour your feelings and intuition.
Non-Striving – Let go of any attachment to an outcome.
Acceptance – Be aware of your emotions without reacting to, or trying to control, them.
Letting Go – Let thoughts and feelings come and go while resisting the urge to hold on to them.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray
Mindfulness has become an important part of the psychologist’s toolkit, and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques are increasingly being used by all sorts of people looking to increase their overall wellbeing.
The proven benefits of mindfulness include decreased stress, enhanced ability to deal with illness, facilitation of recovery, decreased depressive symptoms, and improved general health.
Ways to be Mindful
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” – Sharon Salzberg
Here are five quick and easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine:
Meditation – Mindfulness meditation involves getting comfortable and focusing on your breath. As thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them but do not dwell on them. Just imagine them floating past on a cloud. The key is to keep returning to your breath. The longer you can sit in your meditation the better. But you will see the benefits from even one or two minutes of mindfulness meditation each day.
Walking – Take a walk while paying attention to all five senses. What can you see, hear, feel, smell and taste? For example, if you are walking on the beach, can you see the horizon? Hear the seagulls crying? Feel the sand underneath your feet? Smell and taste the salt in the air?
Journaling – Start a gratitude journal. This can be on paper, or on a digital device like your smart phone. Each morning when you wake up or at night before you go to sleep, journal three specific gratitudes (three good things). For example, instead of writing that you are grateful for your family, you would write that you are grateful for the quality time you spent with your sister yesterday.
Deep Breathing – Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper front teeth. Close your mouth and inhale to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely to a count of eight. Repeat three more times, each time inhaling quietly through your nose and exhaling audibly through your mouth.
Mindful Eating – Only eat when you are hungry. Sit down to eat, away from any distractions. Eat slowly and savour the appearance, smell, and taste of your food. Stop when you are full.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa
Do you practice mindfulness? Let us know in the comments and share the ways in which you stay mindful every day.
This post was written by Jill, of stilljill.com, an Australian blogger sharing lessons of personal growth in finances, relationships, spirituality, health, fitness, career & everything in between.