Mindfulness is often associated with awareness or meditation, but in truth it’s a lot more.
In it’s simplest sense it is those things. A full acceptance of Mindfulness, however, means adopting certain attitudes. It means a whole new approach to life.
Mindfulness asks you to do 7 things:
So taken as a whole, it’s hardly business as usual.
In reality, all of these things are hard to do. Meditation is the easy part.
Can you imagine a day lived Mindfully?
What would it be like?
We might start the morning make time to look out the window at the beautiful sky. We might scan our body and be aware of the messages it sends us. Or we might sit with a cup of coffee, spending a few moments to appreciate its warmth, aroma and taste.
Moreover, if our partner or children annoy us we try to let go. The door may slam, or fights start, or the milk get spilt, but we accept their presence and move on. We feel the irritation, but don’t allow it to affect our mood. And we don’t judge ourselves for our feelings.
As we leave the door we may have thoughts such as “another day at work”, or we may dread the journey to get there. “Isn’t it more of the same, day in day out?”
A little, yes, but if we label an experience before it happens then it will be understood in a certain way. In truth, we none of us have had this day or this journey and a million different things could unfold. In Mindfulness we often try to approach something as if it’s for the first time. Everyday fresh, new, not unencumbered by thoughts and concepts we carry over from the past.
Throughout the day you will be tested. There will be hundreds of times your mind will make judgements. Judgements about yourself, about other people, If you are aware of these, if you can see them as thoughts in your mind, you can choose whether to accept them or not.
You may find you approach others with beliefs about them that you carry over from the past. Yet the person you are talking to is not the same person you met yesterday. A mindful approach suggests greeting a person and a situation always anew.
During the same day you will have hundreds of feelings and intuitions that you can learn to be aware of. You can learn to experience the feelings as they are and to trust the intuitions. They stem from the core of your intelligence, from your inner wisdom. More often than not they are right and have an important message for you.
In between all the tasks you have to do for the day, you may have time for a few minutes of ‘being’. A few moments where we drop the mental activity that formulates and works through the tasks we need to complete. A few moments just to experience what is.
This could be a few seconds attention to our breathing. Focusing on nothing else then the rise and full of our chest or the beat of our heart.
Or we could eat our lunch Mindfully, focusing on nothing else except the flavours and smells of our food. Even a few seconds appreciation amongst conversation is better than nothing at all.
Strive to complete your tasks, but in a detached way. You have things to do, things you want to achieve, but have you invested to much of your ego, your identity in these? If you didn’t have these goals or task to do, would your life be complete?
It is possible to be striving for goals – even big goals – without being too attached to the outcome.
This isn’t an excuse for half a job! Or not to care!
It’s recognition that existence is more important than any singular goal. When you move through life like this you do so with healthy energy, you are not invested in anyone outcome or attachment.
And the funny thing is, the success usually comes just the same. Goals are achieved, success happens. And, while you’ve worked hard for something, it’s not the be all end all.
Another tendency we have is to disown our experiences. As we move from event to event, task to task it’s all too easy to spend the day in our heads. A check-in with our feelings or our body once in a while can help. Even if it’s the last thing of the day before we fall to sleep.
Sleep is actually the best time to practice letting go. If you struggle falling asleep it’s because you have trouble giving up the day. What’s happened has happened, what’s been and gone is gone. Tomorrow is a fresh new day. As you lie there try to practice detachment. Practice letting go of all the important things in your life.
Everything that matters to you. Not out of selfishness or a lack of caring for these things, but just so you can feel the experience of letting go.
They’ll still be there in the morning and so will you.
Ready to great them fresh, anew, like it’s the first time.
How to get more compassion and gratitude into your life
Mindfulness as a lifestyle is not easy. The picture painted above is a suggestion, or an aspiration, or an ideal rather than reality. Minds are very good at creating thoughts that suck us in and demand our attention. Judgemental feelings arrive out of our control. Moreover the ego wants to attach to things, to invest our identity into our goals.
And it’s so easy to see experiences or people through the prism of the labels we carry over from our past.
But the mindful approach of treating each experience as fresh, new, has wonderful benefits. Whether it a decrease in stress, greater gratitude or improved well being.
Compassionate for yourself and for other people. And grateful. Grateful for existence, for life, for the opportunity to make the most of the brief time we have on this planet.
Adopting a mindful lifestyle is to experience the joy of ‘being’. It is a proven method that millions are using to improve their happiness, meaning and contentment in life.
Matt is a trained and licenced Mindfulness teacher and Stress and Anxiety Reduction Counsellor operating in and around the Peterborough area. After overcoming his own stress and anxiety he's found his purpose teaching others to do the same.
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