When I say the words mindfulness and meditation, the first picture that comes to your mind perhaps might be a Zen monk sitting with his legs crossed, high up on a mountain in India. Yet, what if I tell you now that they are more than just some practice done by monks, but are practices that could ease your mind, practices that could potentially change your life?
Most of us are mind-full every day. We are used to living lost in our thoughts. Just as you are reading this, you perhaps are thinking about that conversation you had two hours ago or that assignment due next week. No matter if it is a feeling or a thought, it is easy for us to identify with them, to react to them in some ways. They impact us negatively as it drifts our focus away from our tasks, and inflict negative emotions among us. Yet, it does not have to be that way. You can learn to control your mind instead of having it control you. Now take the following 30 seconds. Close your eyes and try to only focus on your breath. When a thought comes, try to be aware of it without adding any analysis nor judgments, simply label it as– thinking. When a feeling comes, which it may manifest as a physical sensation, be aware of it also, without any judgments or analysis, label it as– feelings.
How does it feel? How does it feel to focus only on one thing? How does it feel to be aware of your thoughts, coming and going? Does it give you an idea of how distracted you could be and how many thoughts usually come into your mind, without you even noticing?
Mindfulness is the quality of being fully present in the moment, aware of both our outer and inner world without any adding judgments. When you are mindful, you are able to look at your inner and outer world objectively. There is a sense of calm, clarity, and serenity to your mind. You are the observer, above all the overthinking and negative thinking patterns. Mindfulness does not imply the absence of thoughts, it means we are able to observe our thoughts coming and going without engaging with them. Mindfulness is scientifically proven to be beneficial to us, with instances like reducing stress and anxiety, reducing distractions and boost focus, and improving physical health. So how do we incorporate such a state of mind into our daily lives, so that our general well-being could be improved? Here are some tips to be mindful in your day to day life:
- Focusing on the physical sensations
It’s easy to get caught up with our thoughts and emotions sometimes. When that happens, we tend to spiral into more thinking and analyzing, we often tend to forget about the “now”. One of the easiest techniques to bring yourself back into the present moment is to feel the physical sensations of your body. It could be the feeling of contact between your feet and the ground, of your stomach expanding and contracting from breathing, and the feeling of the breeze against your skin.
- Apply mindfulness in your everyday routine
Mindfulness does not happen only when you close your eyes and cross your legs. Mindfulness is a lifestyle, a way of living. Therefore, it can be applied in everyday life. To do so, you can start to apply it in your daily routines. Next time when you are brushing your teeth, try to feel the sensation of the toothbrush on your teeth. If you are having lunch, chew the food for at least 20 times before you swallow it, try to taste the food carefully. Take that walk from the bus station to your home as a practice for mindfulness, feel the contact between your feet and the ground every step that you take.
- Try to be mindful when interacting with others
Find yourself scrolling your phone as your parents talk to you? Next time, try putting away all distractions and fully listen to the person who is speaking to you. Engage in the conversation fully and mindfully.
- Meditate regularly
While mindfulness is a quality of mind, meditation is a practice that could help us remain mindful. There are many types of meditations, including mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, and body scan meditation, etc. If you are new to meditation, meditation may sound daunting to you. Yet, it is not as difficult as it seems! There are many user-friendly phone applications on the market nowadays made for beginners who would like to try practicing meditation. Furthermore, just like any other practice, regular and long-term meditation produces neuroplastic effects. It rewires your brain by making new neural connections. This not only makes meditation easier with time, but it also makes it easier for you to transfer the skills of mindfulness into daily life.
Editor’s note: Click here for more tips on how to cope with stress.