What exactly is "Mindfulness"? Here's a general definition supported by Microsoft search for those who are not familiar with the practice: The quality or state of being conscious and aware of something; a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment. Our society, with an overload of distracting information, causes us to split our attention span in multiple directions. Is this way of living helping us to evolve or creating more distance from our natural intuition?
You look to your left, automatically reaching out to your phone and as expected, it's 6:00AM. This is the time you usually wake up for work and prepare to take on the day's responsibilities. Immediatley, you foresee the layout of errands you must accomplish: Get ready for the day, eat breakfast, commute 20 minutes out to the location of your job, stop by your favorite coffee drive thru for your daily adrenaline intake, begin working for the next 8 hours, and the list continues on until you envision snuggling back into bed around 8:30PM that same night.
In this day and age, we are wishing our time away with the lifestyles we have currated, essentially what has caused thousands worldwide to experience a feeling of emptiness and unfullfillment. We are always focused on a future that has yet to arrive, never fully engaged in the current moment.
Mindfulness is not a new teaching, but has rather been present in religious and historical practices throughout the world. It has roots in Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Whether that was in the practice of prayer, mediation, or even yoga, they carry similar traits in terms of mental rituals (routines).
So, how exactly can we improve or begin establishing these habits of mindful living?
First things first: Seperate yourself in order to reconnect.
Like we established, we are constantly in a rat wheel of our daily responsibilities. Seek solitude that best suits your personal preferance. Many find that surrounding themselves in nature is most beneficial when aiming to get reacquainted with their mind. Others may be better off in a quiet, cozy coffee shop. And then there's some that just need a few minutes, in any location, to themselves in complete silence. Find out what works for you and stick with it: The point is to quiet the mind.
Now that you were able to place yourself in a less distracting setting: Control your breathing.
Many seem to undermine the power of managing one's breathing patterns, but if you are able to conduct your body at will, this can then directly impact your state of mind. It slows down your heart rate, brings your body into a condition of relaxation, and gives you a greater sense of authortiy of the present moment. Before skipping this step, give it a try with this exercise:
1. Raise up your right hand to eye level.
2. Use the left hand to trace the outskirts of your right hand.
3. Each time you trace upwards, inhale through your nose and diaphram. Enable airflow from your stomach throughout your chest and exhale as your tracing direction goes down.
4. Continue this method slowly, taking your time with each breath, until you make it to the end of all five fingers.
Again, I want to remind the reader that there are numerous exercises similar to the one above, but it takes experimentation to find the one that suits you best. The ultimate goal is to control your breathing in whatever manner it takes. We, as human beings, need a source of relief, but it can vary drastically depending on the individual. We are all uniquely different!
Another point I would like to bring up when it comes to this teaching is the power of gratitude. Taking the time out of our day to truly be thankful for the "here and now" moments (also known as the Present) is another way to clear the mind of overthinking or over analyzing. We tend to overlook the present time frame we are in, not appreciating the life that we have right within our grasps. Many seem too focused on either their past or their future, allowing precious time to pass away. Do you struggle with this aspect in your life?
If so and you would like to recieve help or guidance to taking back control over YOUR mind, reach out to me through my blog or social media platforms! I want to help you enjoy more present moments and to create memories that will bring feelings of true gratefulness.
Until next Sunday, have a fantastic week!