We all know that staying in the present is important, but how do we really be aware of our thoughts and emotions in our daily lives?
What is Mindfulness?
There are many moments in my life where I acted and said things impulsively during states of high emotion. Without realizing, I was just triggered by external events to behave a certain way.
Wouldn’t you feel so much better to be in control of your own thoughts and emotions, and understand why you are feeling and behaving the way you do?
Mind•ful•ness by definition, means to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment, through a gentle and nurturing lens.
Instead of being provoked by external factors , the mindful approach would be to step back and analyze the situation from a grander picture picture. To be “mindful” means to be conscious and aware of the content in one’s mind. Note that this is actually different from being “alert,” which means to access the content in the mind as either helpful or harmful.
So why Is Mindfulness so Important?
Being mindful means to take notice of your current state and surrounding, instead of thinking about what has not happened yet or repeating past scenarios in your mind thinking about the “should have’s” and “could have’s.” It means to pay more attention on how you are spending your time, and prompts you to slow down and appreciate the little things as they come.
Some days when I’m feeling stressed out and my head is in the clouds, I would stop myself and bring all of my senses back to the present by asking these questions.
Wait… Where am I right now? I am in my room.
What am I doing? I am sitting on my bed and about to go to sleep.
What do I hear? Sound of passing by traffic outside.
What do I feel? The soft bed sheet against my skin.
This allows me to shift my focus to the present again and appreciate all the elements around me.
I believe that being mindful is the first step to making any change you want to create in your life. It is about realizing what triggers you – your fears, anxieties, and insecurities, but also what makes you light up and “feel good” so that you can grow to understand yourself better.
4 Simple Ways to Be Mindful
Mindfulness takes skills and lots of practice. To be more mindful, you must purposely make the time and effort to practice the act of being mindful. Here are some easy ways to start.
Spend time each day to write out your thoughts into a journal. You can begin by pouring out anything that’s on your mind at the moment. Often, you don’t really know what is it you are really feeling until you put them down into actual words on paper. For me, so many of my a-ha realizations about myself happened during those precious moments as I am writing in my journal. I find this habit so helpful that I even added it into my morning routine so I can always start off my day more grounded and with a clearer mind.
” But I can’t just sit here and think about nothing!”
This is my immediate thought when I was first introduced to meditation. I am someone who cannot sit still, who needs to be constantly doing something. But I’ve come to realize that meditation is not just sitting there and thinking nothing, it’s about separating yourself from your current state of mind and observing each of your thoughts as they pass by. Simply accepting them and letting them go. It’s a powerful way to practice staying conscious and aware of your thoughts.
There are many guided meditation apps out there to help you begin mediation. I used Calm, and Head Space.
3. Create Me Time in Peace and Silence
Unplug and learn to appreciate your surroundings as you spend time with yourself. Go out for a short walk in nature and listen to the birds chirping, rustling sound of the leaves, and your footsteps on the gravel. Go to the gym and work on yourself as you focus on your every breath and action. Cook and eat by yourself and really enjoy every bite and the flavor of the food. Spend one afternoon to sit down and read a good book without distraction. Immerse yourself in hobbies that you can do by yourself and really take time to enjoy being with yourself. The more you are used to spending time alone in soft silence, the more you will be aware of your presence in every moment.
4. Be Curious about Your Behaviors
Constantly step back and question yourself.
Why did I just snap at my sister during dinner? Because she said something that annoyed me. Why did I feel annoyed? Because I was in a bad mood. Why was I in a bad mood? Because I am anxious about my presentation at work tomorrow. Why do I feel anxious? Because it is something I value and I want to do a good job. But did I spend time preparing for this presentation? Yes. Is there anything else I can do at this point? No. Oh…. then should I keep thinking about it to ruin my night? Probably not.
Definitely not all behaviors are this easy to interpret. But the more you question your actions, the more you will grow to understand why you are behaving a certain way.
Mindfulness has definitely created more clarity, gratitude, and joy into my daily life. It is always a constant progress and practice for me every day. It’s all about taking the action to begin. Do you also think mindfulness can be beneficial to your life?