Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a steady and calm awareness of our thoughts, emotions and experiences on a moment-to-moment. Having this type of focus will not only benefit your wellbeing but it will allow you to experience life at a deeper and more profound level. Use these five steps to practice mindfulness in your daily life. (Estimated reading time: 5 minutes)
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”— Deepak Chopra
It was a sweltering summer afternoon in July on the day that I was visiting the magnificent temples of Wat Pho in Thailand. I experienced instant relief upon entering these tranquil holy grounds, away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded streets of Bangkok.
The awe-struck tourists around me marveled at the exquisite golden minarets of the temples and ornate walls that were etched with stunning images of the Buddha. But nothing prepared me for the ultimate highlight of my trip, which was nestled in one unassuming shrine.
Our tour guide gingerly led us through a narrow walkway until he asked us to stop and behold the imposing figure that lay in front of our group.
Covered in golden leaves and mother-of-pearl illustrations was an imposing statue of the reclining Buddha. It stands tall at an impressive 15 meters high and 46 meters long – to say it was breath-taking to witness in person is an understatement.
After taking in the scene, I walked closer towards the face of the Buddha to study his expression. The artists depicted him as someone who was not only a revered sage but an actual person who was flooded with grace and love.
It is from this serene and centered place that he preached his wisdom, which is still venerated thousands of years later by both devotees and non-devotees of the Buddhist tradition.
The calm expression that the Reclining Buddha sent me off into a long reverie. I wondered what our world would be like if we all had the capacity to find a similar kind of repose in our own lives.
In today’s demanding world, filled with deadlines and pressing demands, it is a challenge for many people to access a state of mindfulness. We are bombarded by a plethora of tasks that require our instant attention in an already over-stimulating environment.
Many achievers on the fast track to success have the misconception that slowing down in any way is a waste of their time. Making time for stillness is perceived as an inconvenience that would take away a large chunk of time, which could’ve been used for something else more productive. They fear that their entire world will collapse if they take a breather.
But taking some downtime is essential to our health and wellbeing. We need it to calm our nerves and listen to our mind and body. When we are mindful, we feel more in control of our lives and confident in our abilities to deal with problems.
If our minds are preoccupied with noisy thoughts, it’s tough to access the wisdom of our wiser self. Instead, we become like hamsters running inside a wheel, constantly on the move. In this way, we lose touch with what is happening within our internal space.
The good news is that cultivating mindfulness does not require as much time and commitment as we think it does. Author Brené Brown refers to the practice of mindfulness quite simply as an experience of stillness.
Stillness, according to her, is not about focusing on nothingness but about creating a clearing – an emotional clutter-free space that allows us to feel, think, dream and question.
Here are five simple ways by which you can practice mindfulness in your daily life:
1. Focus on your breath: One of the most effective ways to practice mindfulness is by bringing awareness to your breath when in the midst of your daily activities. When we’re stressed out, we have a strong tendency to hold our breath and have shallow breathing. By directing our attention to our breath, we not only take in more air, which relaxes our minds, but we bring our focus to living in the here and now. There are many exercises that we can engage to bring more focus to our breath, such as certain breathing exercises, meditation practices and yoga.
2. Schedule time for relaxation: We’ll feel considerably more at ease if we carve out time in our schedule for rest and relaxation. People feel relaxed by engaging in a variety of activities such as walking in nature, playing golf, listening to music or having a warm bath. Do whatever calms your nerves and gets you centered.
3. Take care of your physical health: Our body consists of bio-chemicals, which in turn affects the quality of our thoughts. There are certain food, lifestyle patterns and habits that can trigger anxiety, and there are some that can induce calm. Eating a diet with lots of alkaline-based fruits and vegetables and avoiding acidic junk and processed foods will create a balanced internal climate within our bodies Also, getting sufficient physical activity and sleep will have a positive impact on both our mental health.
4. Engage in an activities you enjoy: When we immerse ourselves into activities we enjoy, we experience a sense of timelessness known as flow. In this blissful state of flow, we derive an immense sense of pleasure because we are immersed in something that genuinely satisfies us, both on a heart and soul level. You can experience flow by engaging in a number of creative hobbies such as writing, painting, knitting or gardening. What’s important is that the activity should deeply resonate with you and provide a sense of gratification and accomplishment when you partake in it.
4. Practice present moment awareness: In addition to connecting with our breath, there are other ways by which we can increase our sense of mindfulness. For instance, we can heighten our environmental awareness by fully engaging all our five senses. We pay closer attention to the sights, sounds, tastes and texture of the things that are in our surroundings. We draw our focus away from the cacophony of voices within our heads, which usually distract us from witnessing all the beauty that exists in our world.
When you practice mindfulness, you essentially access deeper and more profound levels of your being. Living from this place adds more dimension and vibrancy to your daily life.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: How do you practice mindfulness and how do you stay consistent with your practice?
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