Ding, bing, ring! These are the sounds and notes creating the symphony of hectic schedules and lives. Modernity and technology have made life simpler and convenient with information access like never before. How long would it take you (if interested) to find a gyro meat recipe in an index card mess? Compared with today? Click, click, type something, and you're done. All set for your themed dinner.
Along with the obvious advantages, there are some drawbacks. More than ever, sources of stimuli are competing for our attention. It can be difficult to carry a conversation with someone without looking at your phone. Mealtime is broken up by checking on work emails, and social media is a beast of its own.
There is a growing movement encouraging people to live their lives in a state of “mindfulness”. Now, the term mindfulness may conjure thoughts of beaded curtains and fancy throw pillows. Although meditation can play a role, mindfulness should be considered a much broader topic.
Mindfulness is basically being fully present. Being aware of where we are and what we’re doing moment by moment. Maximizing each second, movement, and feeling. It is quite practical!
If you try it, you may be surprised how difficult living mindfully is. Today's fast-paced, high-stress environment isn’t conducive to mindfulness, which is why it can be all the more necessary. Engaging in mindfulness has already shown positive results with people feeling kinder, calmer, and more patient. Imagine with those changes how your whole life could improve. Here are a few ways you can practice being mindful.
- Take it slow
As mentioned before, being mindful isn’t the easiest discipline, but it is rewarding. If you're finding it difficult, maybe try being mindful for shorter amounts of time. Start with 5 minutes or the time it takes to drink your coffee. There’s no need to take on more than you can bear. Find a quiet place and focus on something like a picture or painting. Perhaps engage more with your senses as you eat or drink a personal favorite snack. Focus fully on the flavor and texture.
- Take a stroll
Slow down your walking speed. Outside there are distractions everywhere, so choose something you can focus on. It can be as simple as how the ground feels beneath your feet. Feel each step. Perhaps the wind is blowing through some tall grass. Stop for a few minutes and enjoy watching the wind waves as they blow through the field. Find an interesting looking tree (there are plenty to be sure) and study its shape and features. Your mind with thank you as it just got a break from everything else you’ve been dwelling on.
- Engaging conversation
We all know how wonderful it feels when someone listens to us. Being present and mindful in conversation is when we demonstrate good listening skills. Giving the other person our complete attention.
When listening, be cognizant of your reactions and emotions as they speak, then return your thoughts to the speaker. There’s no need to jump in right away. When opportunities arise, paraphrase the main points you heard using your own words. Knowing you will do this also helps you concentrate on what’s being said. You will be amazed at how good listening can generate a meaningful conversation experience that grows a relationship. Conversations become less about gathering information and more about being present with a friend or family member.
- A good nights sleep
Proper sleep can solve many problems the next day. Include mindfulness as a way to proactively prepare for rest. Try diming the lights an hour before you go to bed. No dimmer switch? Use lamps with soft light if you can. When you go into your room to sleep, leave your phone in another room. It’s amazing how often we are absorbed by social media or work emails well into the night. Want to challenge yourself? Try excluding any activity involving a screen an hour before bed. When in bed and comfortable, try focusing on nothing but your breathing for a few minutes. This can keep your mind from wandering and help you fall asleep faster.
Many tips and hints can be found online about living mindfully during your day, and how you can incorporate it more effectively. The goal is to enrich your life by resting and clearing your mind. Try to spend some time taking care of yourself this week.